Daily Archives: 28 March 2014

Dilma tweets on violence against women.

President Dilma Rousseff vows ‘zero tolerance’ to violence against women, after a study showed many Brazilians still blame over 527,000 annual rapes on the victims’ dress sense and behaviour.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff called for “zero tolerance” to violence against women on Friday after a study revealed that some 65% of Brazilians believe women “deserve to be [sexually] attacked” if they dress in a revealing way.

Rousseff made the comments after a study by the Institute of Applied Economic Research (IPEA) was released on Thursday.

In the study survey carried out in mid-2013, 3,810 people – two-thirds of whom women – were asked their opinion on a number of statements concerning harassment and violence against women.

To the statement “Women who used clothes that show off their body deserve to be attacked”, some 65.1% responded that they agreed totally or in part.

Some 58.5% also said they were in complete or partial agreement with the statement “If women knew how to behave, there would be fewer rapes”.

President Rousseff took to Twitter on Friday to say that Brazil as a society had “a long way to go on combatting violence against women”:

“The result clearly shows the burden of the laws and public policy in fighting violence against women. It also shows the government and society must work together to face down violence against women, both in and outside our homes.”

Ending a sequence of messages on her official Twitter account, the president called for “zero tolerance” towards the violence.

UPDATE: On the same day as President Rousseff’s comments, news of an online anti-rape protest hit Facebook and spread like wild fire, with the hashtag #nãomereçoserestuprada – or “I don’t deserve to be raped” and thousands of people showing their solidarity.

The study produced a complex and contradictory picture of attitudes in Brazil towards violence against women: over four-fifths of respondents agreed to some extent that “what happened between a couple in their home should not concern others”.

However, more than nine-in-ten believed that a man who beats his spouse should go to prison.

527,000 sexual assaults a year

The IPEA study concluded that Brazilian society still accepts a status quo where men rule over women but not if it extends to physical violence.

But with regard to sexual violence, most people still consider women to be responsible for such behavior if they wear provocative clothing or behave inappropriately, the study found.

A second IPEA study estimated that Brazil sees around 527,000 sexual assaults or rapes annually, but that only 10% of these cases are reported to police.

Carmita Abdo, coordinator of the Sexuality Studies program at the University of São Paulo (USP), said she was not surprised by the results, which show society still blames the victim for such cases of abuse.

“What leads to sexual harassment or rape is not the clothes that women wear but people who want to harass or rape,” she told Folha de S.Paulo newspaper.

Protests denouncing violence against women have been slowly garnering support in Brazil over the past decade, featuring in and amongst the array of grievances voiced by anti-government and anti-World Cup protests seen in the country since last June.

The global SlutWalk movement, which condemns those who believe a woman is at fault for rape because of the way she chooses to dress, has also had a presence in Brazil since 2011.

Extended version of report written for Anadolu Agency

Advertisements
Sao Paulo World Cup Protest. 27 March 2014. Photo by Ben Tavener

Protesters shout: “Hey, FIFA! Pay my tariff-a!” São Paulo World Cup Protest, 27 March 2014. Photo by Ben Tavener

Protesters took to the streets in a number of Brazilian cities on Thursday to show their disapproval of the government’s spending of public money on this year’s World Cup.

The biggest protest, in São Paulo, saw around 1,000 people march down the central business avenue, Avenida Paulista for the fourth time in 2014.

See photos of the protest

A similar number of military police also lined the streets, protecting businesses and onlookers from potential vandalism and violence – seen at previous events. Traffic was diverted away from the protest and police blocked demonstrators from entering side streets.

Sao Paulo World Cup Protest. 27 March 2014. Photo by Ben Tavener

São Paulo World Cup protest blocks part of the city’s main business avenue, Avenida Paulista. 27 March 2014. Photo by Ben Tavener

Although agitated masked individuals, purporting to be from the anarchy-loving Black Bloc group, united at the head of the protest and verbally abused photojournalists at the scene on more than one occasion, Thursday’s protests saw no violence and no arrests unlike previous editions of the demonstrations held under the general banner of “Não Vai Ter Copa” (Portuguese for “There Will Be No Cup”).

The protest largely related to the upcoming World Cup, but some condemned police violence: protesters reminded onlookers of the recent case of Cláudio Ferreira, who was dragged behind a police car through the streets of Rio after being shot in a police operation against armed gangs in a favela community in the city.

Others gave a reminder of next week’s 50th anniversary of the 1964 coup d’état and ensuing military dictatorship – of which protesters said today’s military police are a living legacy.

One of the São Paulo protest’s organisers, 20-year-old Vitor Araújo, said that its peaceful nature had shown that the demonstrators just wanted a platform to air their grievances, and that police had provoked tensions and violence at previous events:

“We’ve shown that things don’t start with us,” Araúja told Folha de S.Paulo newspaper. “We organized ourselves in such a way to avoid any kind of problem, as they start only when the military police repress them.”

At the end of the protest, the city’s fifth edition was announced for Tuesday 15 April.

Coordinated protests

William Oliveira, a 30-year-old tourism student from São Paulo told the Anadolu Agency that it was his right to come to the street to protests: “I’m hoping the country will improve now that people are coming out onto the streets, going online, and fighting for their rights.”

Sao Paulo World Cup Protest. 27 March 2014. Photo by Ben Tavener

“There Will Be No World Cup!” 27 March 2014. Photo by Ben Tavener

“We’re here to protest, legitimately, against public money being spent for private ends,” São Paulo teacher Jaqueline Meire, 24, told AA.

“We know there is no way we can take back the money that has already been invested in the [World Cup] stadiums, but I hope that as a result of these protests our grievances, demands for public services like transport, health and education, will be addressed.”

An anti-World Cup demonstration was also held in Rio de Janeiro, where protesters gathered at the Central Station, before marching on the city’s main Avenida Presidente Vargas road.

Similar small-scale events were also held in Fortaleza and Belo Horizonte.

Despite their small scale, the nationwide coordination of Thursday’s protests was reminiscent of the mass protests seen during the Confederations Cup in June 2013 and the way in which they were organized.

And although Thursday’s protests are a far cry from last year’s mass protests, in terms of numbers, they have maintained surprising momentum and appear intent on continuing until the World Cup begins in São Paulo on June 12.

Indeed, a protest has already been called for near the city’s World Cup Arena Corinthians stadium, also known as the Itaquerão, for the tournament’s opening match between Brazil and Croatia.

Extended version of article written for Anadolu Agency