Every 15 Seconds a Brazilian Woman Suffers Violence

Approximately 40,000 Brazilian women from all over the country gathered in  São Paulo on March 8 to Commemorate International Women’s Day. The  principal themes of the march were equality, justice, peace and solidarity,  and freedom.

Women from more than 60 different urban and rural  organizations participated in the march as well as members of the Worldwide  March of Women from Burkina Faso and Quebec.

The mobilization included  women from very different realities and situations. Rural landless workers,  students, farmers, physically-challenged women in wheelchairs, factory  workers, retired women, feminists, indigenous and Afro-Brazilian women,  teachers, and housekeepers walked side by side in solidarity and unity. 

Participants also included men, children, retired folks, human rights  organizations, church and social movements, and entities that combat racism  and violence.

A sea of vibrant colors and a wave of music and drums took over Avenida  Paulista, the heart of the banking industry in São Paulo. The march was  organized in four sections each with its own theme and vibrant colors.

The  themes were:

* Equality (orange) – agrarian reform, decent minimum salary,  food security.

* Justice (green) – end to racial discrimination, right to  housing and urban reform, justice for persons with special physical or  mental needs.

* Freedom (lilac) – health care for women, reproductive  rights, struggle against the merchandising of women’s bodies and violence  against women.

* Peace and Solidarity (red) – struggle against war,  imperialism, the feminization of poverty, and the Free Trade Accord of the  Americas; working toward demilitarization.

The grim reality of most Brazilian women is disheartening. Brazil’s long  history of inequality between men and women reveals itself in  discrimination and violence against women.

Thirteen and a half million  women, many of whom are rural or domestic workers as well as heads of their  family, earn one minimum salary (about US$ 100) per month.

Women comprise  51% of the Brazilian population and 43% of women work outside the home.  However, the salary for women is 26% less than a man for the same work.  (Diesse analysis, 2003).

A study by the Perseu Abramo Foundation (2003)  indicates that Afro-Brazilian women earn on average 50% of the income of  white women and about 35% of the income of white men.

There continues to be  widespread discrimination against indigenous and lesbian women. Politically,  women make up only 7% of senators and 6% of mayors in the country.

Violence  against women continues to be a major problem. According to the Abramo  Foundation, every 15 seconds a woman suffers a violent aggression in  Brazil, most of which occurs in the home. Seventy percent of the aggressors  in these cases are husbands, ex-husbands or boyfriends of the victims.

Lack  of health care for women is shown in the high incidence of breast cancer  and deaths of women at child-birth. This global march called for government investment in day care centers,  quality schools, collective laundries, and health care.

A decent and just  minimum salary would help in the long run to diminish social inequality and  the scandalous disparity in income that exists in Brazil. Success stories  of women uniting and changing oppressive structures were met with cheers at  the march.

The presence of so many young women gave vibrancy and hope that  “another world is possible”. According to Rejane Andrade, a 38 year-old  domestic worker and mother of 4 children,

“For the first time in my life, I  feel like a real citizen with hope that together we can change our society  and make life better for other women.”

The conclusion of the march was the beginning of the world tour for the  Women’s Global Charter for Humanity, which was adopted by international  women’s groups in Kigali, Rwanda in December 2004.

The text of the charter  was written by women throughout the world. This world tour for the charter  for equal rights began in São Paulo on March 8, 2005 and will end in  Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso (one of the poorest countries in Africa) in  October after passing through 50 countries in-between.

The Charter includes  the themes of the March 8 global march with special emphasis on food  security, agrarian reform, human rights, and demilitarization. The Charter  will be signed by women representatives in each country.

SEJUP – Brazilian Service of Justice and Peace


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