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Brazil: The Violence Against Women Debate

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LuluzinhaCamp badge: "'Luluzinhas' for the end of violence against women".

The International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women was yesterday. Following a series of special posts on Global Voices Online to raise awareness and voices around the cause, we'll see in this post some Brazilian bloggers’ opinions about women's rights.

Renowned Brazilian blogger Lúcia Freitas [pt] gives her contribution by posting a call for bloggers to support a campaign [pt] against violence in the LuluzinhaCamp [pt], a collective of women bloggers inspired on the Little Lulu comics:

Chamada geral! Entre 25 de novembro e 10 de dezembro estamos convocando para a luta pelo fim da violência contra as mulheres. Vamos fazer posts, twittar, fotografar e lembrar que mulheres são seres humanos e merecem respeito – aliás, todo mundo merece…

General call! From November 25th through December 10th we invite you to join us in the struggle to put an end to the violence against women. We're going to write blog posts, tweet, take photos and remind that women are human beings and deserve respect – by the way, everyone does…
"Lulus againts violence". Photo by Gabi Butcher©, used under a Creative Commons license

"Lulus against violence". Photo by Gabi Butcher©, used under a Creative Commons license

Srta. Bia [pt] hears the call and adds her voice to the LuluzinhaCamp campaign, saying [pt]:

No Brasil uma mulher é agredida a cada 15 segundos. Na maioria das vezes o agressor é o parceiro, um familiar ou uma pessoa próxima. Desde pequenas, meninas sofrem com violência e discriminação. Organizações em defesa dos direitos da mulher lutam para eliminar as brechas e anacronismos nas leis, porém as mudanças precisam reverberar na sociedade, na maneira como a mulher é vista.

A women is assaulted every 15 seconds in Brazil. Most of the times, the aggressor is her partner, a relative or a close person. Since they're little, girls suffer from violence and discrimination against them. Organizations advocating women's rights fight to eliminate the gaps and anachronisms of the law, but the changes need to reverberate in the society, in the way women are seen.

She carries on:

É por liberdade que as Irmãs Mirabal lutaram, é por liberdade que lutamos a cada dia. Liberdade de ser a mulher que eu quiser, a mulher politizada ou não, a mulher que tem filhos ou não, a mulher que faz um aborto ou não, a mulher depilada ou não, a mulher que faz sexo com quem quiser ou não, mas acima de tudo a mulher que deve ser respeitada e que de maneira alguma pode sofrer nenhum tipo de violência, seja ela física ou psicológica, apenas por ser mulher. Nada justifica a violência contra ninguém.

Freedom is what the Mirabal Sisters fought for; freedom is what we fight for everyday. Freedom to be the woman I want to be, a politicized woman or not, a woman who was children or not, a woman who aborts or not, a woman who shaves herself or not, a woman who has sex with whoever she wants or not, but above all things, a woman who should be respected and who cannot suffer any type of violence in any way, be it physical or psychological, just because they are women. Nothing justifies violence against anyone.
"Do your bit". Photo by Gabi Butcher©, used under a Creative Commons license

"Do your bit". Photo by Gabi Butcher©, used under a Creative Commons license

The violence against woman debate is a hot topic in Brazil. Just recently, a series of events involving a student from Bandeirantes University in the state of São Paulo triggered many blog posts on the society's prejudice against the feminine body. On the occasion, tourism student Geisy Arruda wore a short pink dress to go to a regular classroom. Her story, however, touches on more than a 20-year-old woman’s choice at clothing: she ended up catching the attention of many students, who considered the dress offensive. Hundreds of them started ridiculing and cursing the girl, as well as threatening to assault her that day.

Geisy Arruda was eventually expelled from the University under the argument that her “provocative” behaviour was not compatible with the school's rules, but after the international mass media found the case profitable and Geisy became a celebrity on TV and on the Internet, the university admitted her back as student. So far, the heckling students have not been punished. Denise Arcoverde in Síndrome de Estocolmo [Stockholm Syndrome, pt] mentioned the case in her blog. In one particular occasion, she wrote [pt]:

Nesse outro vídeo, a imagem da moça saindo escoltada pela polícia.  Fiquei tão passada com a história que me deu uma taquicardia, de raiva. Eu já vi muito machismo, muita cretinice, mas nada com essa violência. Foi um estupro emocional, que não deve ficar por isso mesmo.

Como discutimos no Twitter, a faculdade paulista UNIBAN não é culpada pela atitude canalha dos estudantes, mas é responsável por não ter controlado a situação e ainda deixar a menina ser humilhada ao sair, escoltada pela polícia. Se fosse minha filha, processaria e exigiria milhões de indenização por danos morais.

In this video, the scene of the girl being escorted by the police. I was so shocked with this story that I had palpitations of anger. I've seen a lot of sexism, idiocy, but nothing like this violence. It was an emotional rape that cannot go unpunished. As we discussed on Twitter, Bandeirantes University is not guilty of the mean-spirited attitude of their students, but it is responsible for not having controlled the situation and for allowing the girl to be humiliated when she left escorted by the police. If she was my daughter I would sue the university and ask millions in compensation for damages.
"Those who are free fear not being ridiculous". Photo by Gabi Butcher©, used under a Creative Commons license

"Those who are free fear not being ridiculous". Photo by Gabi Butcher©, used under a Creative Commons license

The Corpos em Revolta blog [Bodies in Revolt, pt] depicts the different types of violence suffered by women and asks the readers to take part in this struggle:

Acreditando que a idéia de feminilidade e o ideal de beleza são conceitos socialmente construídos e ferramentas de controle, o Coletivo Antissexista Corpos em Revolta mostra seu repúdio, nesse dia Internacional da Eliminação da Violência Contra a Mulher, a todas as formas de misoginia, machismo, sexismo, homofobia, e racismo, que vitimizam e inferiorizam as mulheres.

While believing the idea of femininity and the ideal of beauty are socially built concepts and tools of control, the Anti-Sexist Collective Bodies in Revolt shows its repudiation on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women to all forms of misogyny, chauvinism, sexism, homophobia, and racism that victimize and detract women.

And they add information about a demonstration scheduled to take place on November 29 to celebrate their struggle:

Não acreditamos em padrões de feminilidade nem aceitamos padrões estéticos! Somos a favor da diversidade de corpos e de personalidades, da subversão dos valores sexistas que controlam nossas relações! Propomos uma sociedade onde não haja distinções de gênero, cor, etnia, sexualidade ou qualquer outra forma de inequidade sustentada pela sociedade de mercado!

Para marcar essa data, o Corpos em Revolta fará um ato simbólico no Parque Redenção no domingo, dia 29 de novembro, às 15 horas. Traga sua revolta e participe!

We do not believe in femininity standards nor do we accept aesthetic standards! We're in favor of diversity of bodies and personalities, of the subversion of sexist values that control our relationships! We propose a society where there are no distinction of gender, color, ethnicity, sexuality or any other form of inequality backed by the market society!

To mark that date, Bodies in Revolt will stage a symbolic act in Redenção Park this Sunday, November 29, at 3pm. Bring your revolt and take part in it!

Finally, we read the following message [pt] on the Instituto Humanitas Unisinos blog:

Mulheres vem sofrendo a violência dos homens presentes em suas vidas (companheiros, pais, irmãos, filhos) há alguns séculos, e cotidianamente, muitas vezes em silêncio e culpadas por acontecer, ou muitas vezes sem saber reconhecer como uma violência e especialmente contra elas, por serem mulheres. Só recentemente e nos últimos anos, a agressividade social e individual contra nós está sendo nomeada e combatida, com o avanço dos movimentos sociais, feministas e de mulheres, muita coisa avançou no sentido de reconhecer como uma forma específica de privação dos direitos ao exercício da cidadania.

Women have been suffering violence from the men around them (partners, fathers, brothers, sons) for a few centuries and on a daily basis, they remain many times silent and feeling guilty for what happens, or many times they don't realise this is violence, and in particular against them, because they are women. Just recently, in the last years, social and invididual aggression against us has been named and fought; with the advance of the feminist, social and women movements, there has been far more recognition of it as an specific way to deprive someone of their rights to  exercise citizenship.
Photo Foto por Gabi Butcher©, at Luluzinha Camp

Photo Foto por Gabi Butcher©, at Luluzinha Camp, used under a Creative Commons license

The photos that illustrate this piece are from a LuluzinhaCamp meeting in São Paulo on November 22. See the full gallery of positive thinking portraits taken by Gabi Butcher, from DiaPositivo Fotografia [pt] blog. And happy 2010!

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