Note from BW of Brazil: The material we present today should be understood in the following way: Numbers don’t lie! Clearly we love to present great stories about black Brazilian women finding success in their lives, but these stories don’t negate the horrific side of being a black woman in Brazil. We have consistently presented material showing an apparent agenda of genocide against young black men, but the statistics and stories of black women also present a reason for alarm. Black women are the majority of women who die from complications of childbirth, are being locked up in rates higher than white women and are often in more vulnerable situations in which the courts and the law are involved. In a past post, we presented a article showing that black women are the majority of women killed in Brazil and today’s report simply confirms how grave the situation really is. Other reports have shown that while the murder rates of white men have fallen in recent years, the loss of black male lives increased at an alarming rate. Unfortunately, as you will see in the piece below, the pattern also rings true for black women.
In the last 10 years, while the homicide rate of white women fell by 9.8% percent, for black women it rose 54%!!
Courtesy of Folha Vitória, Jornal Cruzeiro and UOL (by Leandro Prazeres)
The number of women victims of homicide in Brazil increased 21% in ten years, during which 46,186 women were murdered in the country. Of these deaths, most were caused intentionally by people known to the victim, such as family and partners.
The data are part of the study Mapa da Violência – Homicídio de Mulheres (Map of Violence – Homicide of Women), released on Monday (9th) in partnership with UN Women, Opas (Organização Pan-Americana de Saúde or Pan American Health Organization) and the Secretaria Especial de Políticas para Mulheres (Special Secretariat of Policies for Women), of the federal government.
In 2003, there were 3,937 murders of women in the country. In 2013, the year of the latest information available, the number of reported murders of women rose to 4,762. Data were tabulated based on the records of the Sistema de Informações de Mortalidade, do Ministério da Saúde (Mortality Information System of the Ministry of Health).
This brings the country to a rate of 4.8 homicides per 100,000 women – it’s the fifth highest compared with data from other 83 countries, released by OMS (Organização Mundial de Saúde or WHO – World Health Organization). In this sense, Brazil is only behind El Salvador, Colombia, Guatemala and Russia.
If the country’s growth in the number of murdered women is 21%, in some states, the increase is even greater – in the cases of Roraima and Paraíba, for example, where rates have more than tripled in ten years. The survey also provides data on the occurrence of this type of crime in the country’s capitals. The cities of Vitória, Maceió, João Pessoa and Fortaleza lead the ranking with over rates of over ten homicide rates per 100 thousand women.
Overall, the Northeast is the region with the highest growth in female homicide rates between 2003 and 2013: 79.3%. Next is the Northern region, with a 53.7% increase in period. In regards to the profile of the victims, black women appear as even more vulnerable. Between 2003 and 2013, the number of black women homicides increased 54% from 1,864 to 2,875. In comparison, the murders of white women fell 9.8% in the same period, totaling 1,576 cases in 2013.
The figures confirm a trend already demonstrated in previous studies. A study released this year by the Fórum Brasileiro de Segurança Pública (Brazilian Forum on Public Security), for example, showed that young black men are at 2.5 times greater risk of being killed than whites.
Resources, the politics of security and race
For the coordinator of the study, Julio Jacobo Waiselfisz, the discrepancy between the deaths of black and white women is the result of at least three factors: outsourcing of public security, the politicization of the issue of security and racism.
“In practice, the white population has more resources to pay for extra security. This happens in the stores in malls where that public goes. In fact, the white population ends up having access to two forms of security: that of the State and private,” explained Jacobo.
The researcher also says that public security has become a very dear issue to politicians and that this influences the decision making of the managers.
“When a white businesswoman dies in an upscale neighborhood, the immediate consequence is that more police are deployed to that area as a way to meet the clamor of public opinion. The same doesn’t happen when a black woman is killed in a favela (slum) (1). This politicization security creates distortions,” he affirmed.
For Jacobo, racism is the third element that helps to explain the difference between homicide rates against black and white women.
“In Brazil, there isn’t so much cordiality and nor is there such a racial democracy (1) that one preaches. There is a cocktail where the black man and the black woman are more targeted in the violence question. This is observed not only with regard to the women. In general, the black population is most affected by violence and this of course will reach the women.”
A barbaric facet of racism
The study showing a fall in the murder of white women with an increase in murder rates against black women was considered innovative by the representative of UN Women Brasil, Nadine Gasman, by revealing the “cruel combination” established between racism and sexism.
There were 13 female homicides per day: a murdered woman every 1 hour and 50 minutes. This is equivalent to exterminating all women in 12 municipalities the size of Borá (state of São Paulo) and Serra da Saudade (state of Minas Gerais), which have fewer than 400 female inhabitants.
“Black women are exposed to direct violence that victimizes them fatally in their relationships, and indirectly, that that affects their children and people close to them. It is a daily reality, marked by very hard trajectories and situations and that they face, most of the time, alone,” says Nadine.
The data, she judges, denounces the “barbaric facet of racism”, and urgently accelerates concrete institutional responses in favor of black women. The Day of Black Consciousness, celebrated on the 20th, motivated the choice of the month for the release of the study.
The Map of Violence concludes that the black population is a priority victim of the deadly violence in Brazil, while femicide rates against the white population tend, historically, to fall. Within a decade, the victimization rate of black women – a calculation resulting from the relationship between the both races – grew 190.9% in the entire country, a number that exceeds 300% in some states such as Amapá, Pará and Pernambuco.
Differences between states
The states with the largest rates of femicide of black women are Espírito Santo, Acre and Goiás. The number of black women murdered only decreased in Rondônia and São Paulo. Not even the Maria da Penha Law, which went into force in 2006, was able to shrink the statistics. After the enactment of the law, only five states recorded a fall in rates.
The victimization of black women went into a steep climb between 2003 and 2012, but fell in 2013. It is too early to celebrate, however. According to the methodological procedures of the Map of Violence, this aspect can only be configured as a real trend if there are three consecutive years of decline.
Public servant and member of the collective Pretas Candangas (Black Women Candangas), of Brasília, Daniela Luciana points out that there is a kind of violence against black women that cannot be measured in numbers: the symbolic.
“We are raped from the time we wake to bedtime, because of the stereotype, invisibility and little presence in positions of power,” says Daniela. The group has organized for 18th of this month in the Federal Capital, the Marcha das Mulheres Negras (Black Women’s March), to end violence against women.
The study also brings an estimate of femicides -that is, the deaths of women for reasons of gender – which occurred in 2013, according to the latest data. The focus comes after the government sanctioning, in March of this year, law 13.104, which shall consider femicide, which includes cases of domestic violence, as an aggravating factor of the crime of murder.
According to the survey, half of the 4,762 female homicides recorded in 2013, or 50.3%, were perpetrated by a victim’s family, which leads to an average of at least seven femicides per day in the country.
Of the total, 1,583 women were killed by their partners or former partners which corresponds to 33.2% of all homicides that year.
While for men 73.2% of homicides occur with firearms, for women, this rate is lower: 48.8%. In contrast, increasing cases of strangulation and use of sharp objects, which shows greater presence of hate crimes or for trivial reasons, the report said.
Besides the approval of the law which makes femicide a heinous crime, the issue of violence against women was also highlighted in recent days after the matter being the motto of the Enem composition test (Exame Nacional de Ensino Médio or National Survey of Secondary Education), one of the leading means of selection of students for admission to the universities of the country.
In 2014, two out of three victims treated in SUS [Sistema Único de Saúde or Unified Health System] for domestic or sexual violence and other types of assault were women. In other words, of 223,796 treatments, 147,691 were for women – or 405 per day. The data were collected from Sinan, the Ministry of Health system. The survey also shows that half of the treatments for women in SUS for these reasons had already occurred before for similar reasons.
- None three of these points can be overemphasized, The myths that “all Brazilians are equal”, are always cordial and live in a racial democracy are beliefs that consistently undermined by the facts and until people can admit this, there can never really be an open honest dialogue on very real racial inequalities that gave existed for centuries.