International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women 25th November
By Jane Barros Liberdade, Socialismo e Revolução CWI in Brazil
The death of women in Brazil as a result of violence, inside and outside the home, is one of the most barbaric phenomena in present day Brazilian society. The numbers are so expressive that such deaths are characterized separately as femicide – homicide committed against women in an intentional, directed manner, the result of sexism and misogyny – and it is no exaggeration to say that this is one of the biggest social problems today.
The Atlas of Violence published in 2019 shows an explosion of violence with 13 women dying per day, 1 every two hours, 66% of whom are black women. There was a 20.7% increase between 2007 and 2017. Of these deaths, 40% were inside the home and involved a firearm or sharp object.
We have some of the most advanced legislation in the world, but a support structure that cannot cope with the demand. Last year, 1,133 Brazilians were murdered due to gender issues: an average of three per day.
With the Bolsonaro Government’s bill that will relax the rules for the carrying of firearms, this situation could get even worse. The arms industry allied with sexist culture will produce new victims if nothing is done. Sexism kills, and authorizes men to exterminate women in the name of a supposed backward patriarchal right over a body that is not his.
Cases behind the numbers
Behind the numbers stories are revealed of lives interrupted by violence. In Brazil, according to data from the Brazilian Public Security Forum (FBSP), more than 80% of the latest crimes were committed by someone close to the victim, such as a husband, boyfriend, father, former partner or even neighbor. 40% of the cases happened inside the home.
- A 20-year-old girl was stabbed 12 times with a knife by her boyfriend in Francisco Morato, Greater São Paulo. The reason given by the aggressor: she didn’t want to have a child with him.
- On September 13, 2008, Eloá Cristina Pimentel, 15, studied with three friends at home. Her ex-boyfriend broke into the house and held her in captivity for 100 hours. He shot two of the teenagers, killing Eloá and injuring Nayara in the face.
- Ana Carolina de Souza Vieira, 30, from Fortaleza/Ceará, moved to São Paulo to pursue her dream of becoming a model. She received numerous death threats from her ex-boyfriend, who lived in Fortaleza and did not accept the end of the relationship. Ana’s body was found on November 4, 2015, after neighbors noticed a strong smell coming from her apartment. The ex-boyfriend confessed to the crime.
- Mércia Nakashima, a 28 year old attorney, was killed by the retired military policeman Mizael Bispo de Souza because she didn’t want to resume dating him.
- Gisele Santos de Oliveira no longer wanted to remain married to Elton Jones because her husband was very jealous. Her partner cut off her hands, her left and part of her right foot.
- In August 2013, Mara Rúbia Guimarães, who had been separated for two years from her former partner, was immobilized by him in her house, beaten and had her eyes cut out with a knife.
- Bodybuilder Renata Muggiatti was dating doctor Raphael Marques when she was strangled and then thrown out of a building in Curitiba.
The perpetrators of all the above crimes justified their actions, saying they were jealous, passionate or had been abandoned, but by doing so, they violently revealed that they thought they owned these female bodies.
Feminicide and capitalism: allies
In Latin America, nine women are murdered every day as victims of gender-based violence. According to UN Women’s report, this region is the most dangerous in the world for women outside war zones. Almost half of the 2,559 women murdered in 2017 alone, were killed in Brazil.
The worsening living conditions of the working class with increasing unemployment, the dependence and vulnerability of women, the lack of public facilities such as schools, student assistance, health and leisure all contribute to the increase in cases of femicide. This is in the context of an extreme right-wing government that marginalizes gender equality policies and demonizes any struggle for equal rights that could offer women the chance to escape from gender oppression and enable them to construct another way of life.
The effects of the 2008 crisis, which have been most severely felt in Latin America have made the situation even worse. They have led to further draconian cuts in public support for women, in Brazil huge cuts have been made. The budget for programmes to protect women in 2019 is the smallest it has ever been. Created by the government in 2012, only R$ 48 million was set aside this year. Although in 2015, the amount was 6 times higher, R$ 290.6 million, it was still inadequate to combat the culture of extermination.
Referral centers, shelters and special police stations are all part of the network of care and attention for women that is being wound down through a lack of money, this is without mentioning the lack of preventive policies that involve non-sexist education and communication campaigns that combat structural sexsim.
Our lives matter: the importance of Socialism in this struggle!
Rosa Luxemburg’s words have never made so much sense: “nothing causes more terror than the women who fight and dream“. When these women are black and of the working class, then the dread materializes into violence as a means to silence them and maintain order.
That is why in Brazil and Latin America, to fight for women’s lives is to fight for the destruction of this system. It’s not possible to disconnect these struggles, since nobody else feels so closely the effects of a brutal system. Capitalism and sexism kills.
Socialist feminism is not a theoretical or abstract debate about concepts and characterization, it is about creating the real possibility of guaranteeing that our bodies are no longer marked for extermination and that we have the material and subjective conditions to live and reach our potential, alive!