By Indira Xavier and Larissa Maymi, Coordination of the Olga Benario Women’s Movement.
Published in A Verdade #267, March 2023.
Earlier this March, research published by Datafolha and the Brazilian Forum on Public Security showed that in 2022, every six hours a woman was killed in Brazil. There were 1,410 women murdered because they were women, the highest number ever reached since these hate crimes began to be recorded in 2015.
Compared to 2021, all types of violence against women have increased. It is worth remembering that in 2021 we experienced a peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, with social isolation measures to contain the spread of the virus, in which there was an increase in domestic violence, since many women began to live for a longer time confined with their abusers.
The survey also reveals that the main victims were black women, 65.5%, and that 57.4% were mothers. Young women are also among the main victims: 30.3% were aged between 16 and 24 years and 22.8% in the range of 25 to 34.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 33.4% of Brazilian women aged 16 years or older suffered physical and/or sexual violence from their intimate partner or ex-partner, a number higher than the world average of 27%.
Why is violence against women increasing?
Under the government of the fascist Jair Bolsonaro, between 2020 and 2023 about R$ 23 million [about $4.37 million U.S.] were allocated to confront violence against women, 94% less than between 2016 and 2019 (R$ 366.58 million [about $69.65 U.S.]). One of his last actions was to cut the funds for these policies by 90%, which had already suffered successive cuts, threatening the extinction of Dial 180, a channel for women’s care.
Thus, these cuts made it precarious and caused the closure of many specialized services for the care of women.
The reflection of this also appeared in the above-mentioned survey: 45% of women who suffered violence did not seek specialized help; they turned to friends and family for help. The justification for not looking for the Police was mainly because they decided alone or because they did not believe that the Police could offer a solution.
Another factor cited in the report was ultraconservatism, i.e. fascism, which directly attacked women. Bolsonaro and his followers have uttered several hate speeches against women and even committed acts of physical violence.
The conservative discourse of defending the “traditional family” model, as the only and legitimate one for the protection of children, in contrast to the advance in the debates held in the school environment on sexual education as a way of preventing sexual violence against children and adolescents, has also increased violence in this environment: in 2021, more than 61.2% of rape victims were between 0 and 13 years of age; 76.5% of the cases occurred at home, with 82.5% of the aggressors being a known man, and of these, 40.8% were the father or stepfather. The home is the place where most severe cases of violence occur (53.8%).
What is the response of women?
Although the data point to a cruel scenario for women and girls, on March 8, International Women’s Day, even with rain in many cities, hundreds of thousands of women took to the streets from North to South of the country, with the main banner in defense of democracy and demanding the punishment of the coup plotters who attacked Brasilia, on January 8, in an attempted coup d’état.
“Fascism increases the death of the women of our country and has to be fought in the streets, with a great mass act. The election is over, but our struggle is just beginning and the Olga Benario Women’s Movement invites everyone to come out into the streets on April 1st saying that we want Bolsonaro and his accomplices in prison,” said Nana Sanches, a militant of the Olga Benario Movement at the women’s event in Porto Alegre (RS).
In the North, the message of the Movement was: “The Brazilian State is silent when it comes to defending the lives of women. For this reason, we are holding this action and invite everyone together to build safe houses for women in the city of Manaus,” said Gabriela Valentim.
Vivian Mendes, from Popular Unity (UP), said that “we demand punishment for the generals and other members of the dictatorship who, in the past, tortured, raped, murdered, concealed the corpses of our women, such as Helenira Resende, Margarida Maria Alves and Maria Lúcia Petit.”
Thus, the Olga Benario Women’s Movement called for women to fight in the streets from North to South of the country against fascism and to organize more women in more struggles in defense of women’s lives and for a socialist society! Only in this way will it be possible to combat violence and live in a free world!
Categories: Anti-Fascism, Brazil, International, Women