Black Women of Brazil

The site dedicated to Brazilian women of African descent

Young black men die by murder, young black women die from lack of health care: "Public security", state authoritarianism and the extermination of the black population


Afro Brazilians

Originally titled: “Os jovens negros morrem e as mulheres negras também morrem (Young black men are dying and black women are also dying)

by Luka*

It’s been awhile since the Movimento Negro (black movement) put on its agenda the discussion about the genocide of black youth, criminalization of poverty and the politics of mass incarceration promoted in our country. A hard, difficult debate, but it needs to be faced as it is the reality of thousands of people in Brazil, including women, who are the mothers of those killed or the young black girls who suffer from illegal and unsafe abortions.

The latest violence rates demonstrate the racial profile of the murders in the country. The number of deaths of young black men, between 15 and 24 years is 139% greater than that of whites. According to the Map of Violence Report 2012, between 2001 and 2010 the number of white victims, 15 to 24 years, fell 27.5% (from 18,852 to 13,668), while the black victims increased by 23.4% (from 26,952 to 33,264). (Rocha, Raiza. “Act denounces the extermination of the black population in São Paulo”)


Public protest against wave of violence against young, poor black men in peripheires of São Paulo

However, it is not only through the escalation of police violence that we see black people be wiped out in recent decades. It’s important to remember the sterilization policy promoted in the periphery, imposing on women a condition that was not chosen by them and based on the American model of fighting poverty which includes mass incarceration, sterilization of black women (1) and the criminalization of poverty. Here perhaps the greatest herald of this model of extermination of the black and poor population is the governor of (the state of) Rio de Janeiro: Sérgio Cabral.

Sterilization occupied a privileged place over the years on the political agenda of black women who produced campaigns against the sterilization of women due to the high ratios that this phenomenon acquired in Brazil, primarily among low-income women (most of the women who are sterilized do it because they don’t find in the health system availability and diversity of reversible contraceptives that would allow them not to have to make the radical option of not being able to have children). This theme was also the subject of legislative proposals, a partnership between parliamentarians and feminist activists that culminated in the design of Law No. 209/91 that regulated the use of sterilization (Carneiro, Sueli. “Mulheres em movimento (Women in action”).

These nuances of the policy of genocide of the black population that we see in our country end up hidden, made invisible precisely because when we black women have organized to debate the gender issue with the Movimento Negro or the race issue with the feminist movement, we end up being curtailed as being divisive movements, when in fact it is the opposite; it is the attempt to show how today’s sexist and racist society persecutes, sterilizes and kills a people that has color, gender, sexuality and so many other categories.

It’s not from 2012 that we are seeing a resurgence of police violence in our country and more precisely in the state of São Paulo, we only need to remember the crimes of May and the whole debate about demilitarization of the police in our country (2). Obviously it’s beyond the debate on sexual and reproductive rights, because black women are more likely to die from illegal and unsafe abortions and having to resort to health clinics and having their treatment denied. Because it is us who most need public health services, which is now being privatized and often managed by social organizations linked to several churches. We are put in a position of dying by hemorrhaging, judged and sentenced to death by doctors and nurses, just like black youths are tried and sentenced to death by the Military Police across the country.


Poster: Stop the death of women by clandestine abortions. 

For the right to legal, safe, free abortion

We are in a state in which 2 people are killed every day by the Military Police of São Paulo and nothing is recorded. Meanwhile, most of the mayoral candidates in the city speak of intensifying violence in the periphery with a smile on their face, as if solving the problem of violence in our city is like this, when in fact it only operates a racist and segregatory system. And, caught in the middle, there are women, losing their children, being humiliated in prisons and foundation houses (3) with vexatious body searches, knowing that their sons or daughters suffer torture and the like. But this is even more silenced, as it reveals the suffering that these women go through, right?

The problem is not that we allow ourselves to think that this is political, because for many years this ideology has entered into our daily lives through sensationalist (TV) programs, like Aqui e Agora, Programa do Ratinho,Datena and others, or from news stories that are nothing more than police reports written in other words. We were being hypnotized by a false idea that a security policy was necessary, that, to be more effective, it could violate all our rights, transferring to the armed state all designs on our lives. Every shot at a citizen is a shot to our Constitution that already been shot up.

The current governor of the state of São Paulo, Geraldo Alckmin, when he took his first term in 2001 reaffirmed the interventionist, repressive and authoritarian mindset, based on a doctrine of public security and permanent preventive war against terror of the United States. The policy of “zero tolerance” is a war against the internal enemy, since we are not at war with another country. For those who think this is an exaggeration, since one names the current regime we live in a democracy, even official statistics show that the internal enemy is the poor and black. (Manoel, Givanildo. “Mentiras, verdades e silêncio sobre a política de insegurança pública (Lies, truths and silence about the politics of public insecurity).”

If in the periphery we hear story after story of mothers and sisters about unexplained arrests, about disrespect to human rights, the real situation is always more difficult. The genocide of black youth affects mostly young black men, but it is the black women that remain here with the stigmatization, with the pain of not burying their children. But violence, as I said, not only affects us when the police kills one of us in such an arrogant manner, but also when we are relegated to die alone in hospitals. The tormentor  of young black men is the police, the tormentor of young black women is the privatization of health; all this serving the same government and the same racist, sexist and capitalist ideology.

According to an article in Caros Amigos (magazine), in two months, over 200 people have died on the outskirts of São Paulo and in its satellite cities.

 

Illustration – Tribute to Mothers of May and the courageous women of Brazil and around the world by Carlos Latuff, May/2011.

It’s enough to see that recently the governor of São Paulo, Geraldo Alckmin, swore in more than 200 deputies and intensified rigid laws directed at young people. This can be seen more and more in our periphery even where I’ve read that more than 200 people died in these two months of the “war on terror” of the tucanto (tucan bird symbol of the PSDB (Partido da Social Democracia Brasileira – Brazilian Social Democracy  Party) party of São Paulo governor Geraldo Alckmin ). Mothers, sisters and daughters who lost their loved ones and often don’t know where they are buried or imprisoned. And the license is still to kill, and to look for those disappeared during the confrontations; the answer is prejudice and humiliation. Blame it on the family and not a state that segregates everything and denies basic rights of citizenship. This is a coincidence (of what happened) with the crimes of the dictatorship? It could only be this.

 

What one perceived was a transit between an ideology of political repression of the 70s (symbolized in the Escola Superior de Guerra (Superior School of War), the think tank doctrine of the military dictatorship) (4) with public security at the beginning of the 21st century, especially when Brazilian governments elected in 1989, 1994 and 1998 inserted the country into the neo-liberal doctrine that meant an intensification of income concentration. The logic of interrogation with refinements of torture in police stations, the ostensibly violent posture of the agents of military police in the streets, manipulation of evidence, among other things, even the almost institutional posture of justifying violent acts of the police as a reaction to the alleged resistance of the victims is reminiscent of periods of political repression. (Genocídioda Juventude Negra: Doutrina da ditadura e racismo continua firme e forte nas forças de segurança  – Genocide of Black Youth: The doctrine of dictatorship and racism is still going strong in the security forces).

We are on the margins of society and for that reason they withdraw the strength of our homes, kill our children and deny us access to health care. They kill us because they hate us, humiliate us because they hate us, they do everything because they hate the people and the people of this country are black, female, LGBT and workers.

 

* Luka is a journalist, mother, feminist and socialist originally from the state of Pará and now based in São Paulo. Possesses a bachelor’s degree in the field of Journalism from PUC/SP, she was a militant and national coordinator of the Executiva Nacional de Estudantes de Comunicação Social (National Executive of Student Media or ENECOS), she more or less follows journalists’ opposition, is part of the women’s sector of the PSOL (Partido Socialismo e Liberdade or Socialism and Liberty Party, a leftist political party) and is coordinator of Guerreira Maria Filipa (Warrior Maria Filipa)  (5) course in the Guaianases (neighborhood  of São Paulo)  of UNEafro-Brasil (União de Núcleos de Educação Popular para Negras/os e Classe Trabalhadora (Union of the Center of Popular Education for Blacks and the Working Class).

Source: Blogueiras Feministas

1. “black activists say that mass sterilization campaigns run by private groups in Brazil target Afro-Brazilian women precisely for this reason. When South African black leader Nelson Mandela visited recently he was handed a document claiming that 20 million black Brazilian women have been sterilized.” – Teodoro, Lourdes. “Black Brazil”. New Internationalist, Issue 226, December 1991.

“Brazilian women are having fewer children. The fertility rate has decreased from 4.3 children per woman in 1980 to about 2 children now, according to government statistics. Nearly one in two Brazilian women of childbearing age have been sterilized, according to a 2001 government survey. Demographers and health experts believe the figure is even higher. ‘We have a culture of sterilization in Brazil,” said Jurema Werneck, executive director of Criola, a (black) women’s health organization here in Brazil. ‘It’s nationwide. A lot of politicians are elected because of their sterilization promises.’” – Jeter, Jon. “Infertile Ground Is Sown in Brazil: Politicians Trade Sterilizations for Votes.” Washington Post Foreign Service. June 11, 2004

2. In May of 2006, 493 deaths occurred in São Paulo, provoking police death attacks on stations of Military Police, blood baths in the peripheries of the city and the burning of buses. The Movimento Mães de Maio (May Mother’s Movement) is a group of around 70 women that point to the Military Police as being responsible for the deaths of their children, directly or indirectly. The group requests the demilitarization of the police and the creation of a policy of support for the relatives of those who fall victim to violence of the State and the characterization of deaths committed by the police as homicide and not “resistance followed by death” as they are currently registered. For more on the registration of deaths as “resistance to arrest” see our article “Police in northeastern state of Bahia kill more than one person per day, rate is higher than in Rio and São Paulo. Police murders registered as ‘resisting arrest’ soar”

3. The Fundação Centro de Atendimento Socioeducativo ao Adolescente (Foundation Center of Socio-Educative Care for Adolescents or CASA), formerly called the Fundação Estadual para o Bem Estar do Menor (FEBEM or State Foundation for the Welfare of Children) is an agency of the State of São Paulo linked to the Ministry of Justice and of the Defense of Citizenship. Its function is to carry out educational measures applied by the Judiciary to adolescents who have incurred a record of infractions between the ages of 12-21, as determined by the Estatuto da Criança e do Adolescente (ECA or Statute of Child and Adolescent). Source: Wikipedia

4. From 1964-1985, Brazil was ruled by a brutal military dictatorship that led to thousands of tortures, murders and disappeared.

5. Organization named after Maria Felipa, a black female warrior who, according to Hilda Virgens of the House of Maria Felipa, along with about 40 women seduced the Portuguese and when they were fully involved, and without clothes, gave them a beating. Maira Felipa, though little known, is studied today in Colleges and Universities. This black woman who fought for the independence of Bahia has not been properly recognized in the history of independence of Bahia. Source: Casa de Maria Felipa

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According to sociologist, in the northeastern state of Alagoas, while one white is killed, 20 blacks are ‘exterminated’”

Brazil: Death squads and the genocide of Afro-Brazilians

10 comments on “Young black men die by murder, young black women die from lack of health care: "Public security", state authoritarianism and the extermination of the black population

  1. centralharlemite
    November 11, 2012

    It is funny, when Sean Bell was shot coming outside his bachelor party in NYC many Black people got fed up and petitioned marched, and stated their case, sometimes with the utmost eloquence. 7 years after that event, a Black man is shot to death with a knife, without having cut anyone, surrounded by gun wielding cops.Black people have to leave Sao Paulo, plain and simple. Big cities, and especially their police forced, are never going to change. If you consider post enslavement, how long Black people have fought in Brazil against these acts of incarceration and murder, all legal, it must be argued that the big cities will not change. Either accept it and stay or leave it and go to a better place.

  2. Afro's Angle
    November 11, 2012

    Go where. Oppression based on race and economics isn't relegated to Brazil or NYC. Its a global virus from the inception of when slavery turned to chattel slavery and then based on a permanent underclass with a philosophy to boot. Change is hard, but social movements only happen when people stand up and say Enough of this consistently. Still won't happen overnight especially when you are dealing with changing status quo.

  3. Anonymous
    November 11, 2012

    The person behind this blog doesn't have a clue about Brazil.He speaks about the police as if all policeman in Brazil were white, but in fact most of them are blacks. You are basically talking about black policemen being racist against black people…This blog is a joke, really.

  4. Gatas Negras
    November 11, 2012

    "Anonymous": I will say to you as I have written to others who have made this type of accusation ("you Americans know nothing about Brazil", "The person behind this blog doesn't have a clue about Brazil", "leave Brazil alone"), 90-95% of the information found in this blog comes from Brazilian news sources, most of them are DIRECT, WORD-FOR-WORD translations. Luka, a feminist based in São Paulo is the author of this article and the article is full of sources and citations from Brazilian experts on this topic. So, first I will ask, what in this article do you disagree with? Second, where in this article does it state that the police are all white? Whether the police are black or white or a mixture of both is not the point of the article. The point of the article is the disregard and extermination of the black population and if you look at other articles on this site that speak of police murder of black youth, you will see the unbelievable data in states like Pernambuco, Alagoas, and Bahia. If you disagree please provide your reasons, data and citations to back up your argument. You are free to present your point of view in a respectable manner, but to simply state "The person behind this blog doesn't have a clue about Brazil", doesn't prove anything except that you disagree. If you disagree, present the facts to back it up!We have facts, where are yours?

  5. centralharlemite
    November 12, 2012

    I dont know where, but those are the kind of questions that need answering. You can't kill an idea with a bullet, you can't outlive it either. Bias isnt a virus, we all have biases, for different things, at different grades, and with different results. All of humanity, which is billions of people will never sing the same tune.

  6. centralharlemite
    November 12, 2012

    Afro message me on my wordpress if you respond.

  7. Anonymous
    November 12, 2012

    this isnt the same anonymous as above, ive posted about passistas on the other thread….i have nothing against gatas negras. i only want to address the complexity of the situation and that underneath, black brazilians are marginalised whether they are men, women or police…but, i question some of the political activist atitudes that will scrutinise situation but not ackowledget the total problem…like sterilisation…its so simple to make it think like it is some kind of extermination, but, to not address the huge amount of unwanted births does nothing to move forward on the problem…it just feeds paranioa. in the northeast of brazil, a few decades ago it was very common for families to have many children, in many cases hoping to have male children, and the girls would be made to feel insignificant…brazil is a cahtolic coutry mostly so you have high births in families and i totaly agree that the laws against abortion are antiquated and contributes greatly to problems and the health of the young women who get clandistine abortions…this railing at sterilisation thinking it is extermination is ridiculas if there is no other solutions to deal with unwanted children beeing born…it only confuses the situation..about police killings, of course it is unfair to the black citizens, more people are killed by the police in sao paulo than killed in the entire usa by policebut, there is a wave of police killings going on in sao paulo right now…a huge amount of police are getting assasinated, and that underscores the reality of poverty , racism and cladistine economies .and that there is a tremendous tension between the police and the peripheria in sao paulo. if police get shot, they respond with intence reciprication…i think its the hypocracy in society about poverty, drugs, and racism, it just so happens to get played out in the line between the police and the sub economy ,gangs and drugs,and these gangs are also killing each other in huge numbers

  8. Anonymous
    November 13, 2012

    what has happened is that organised crime has taken a tremendous foothold in the favelas and peripherias.society in brazil has let poverty and racism create a sub economy where young males who want in on fast money, join drug gangs and young women who want fast money become prostitutus, because there isnt much upward economic mobility any other way. the pcc is responsible for the assasination of the police in these latest wave of murdes of police officers, how do you think that will paly out in the future as the poilice look for vengance…and they will…there is a huge hypocysy, though, about the drug trade. crack cocaine has,in the last 10 years become a horribe drain on brazilian society with crackolandias in sao paulo and rio and all over brazil an increase in the crack problem. and , 10 years ago or so, fernando beiramar , one of the absolute largest coke dealers in brazil, was busted with farc, farc, the leftest marxist guerilla group in colombia who are nothing really but thug kidnappers and drug dealers.huge chavez has given support to farc in many ways, but, you wont find people in brazilian society really looking at that aspect, how much farc is tied in with other outside drug dealers in decaying brazilian society with huge amounts of crack cocaine flowing into the countrythat is why luca, from the left and an activist with her political agenda, wont get into the real reasons there is so much violence in brazil, and, instead of condemming farc and hugo chavez support for them, and the farc crack cocaine and arms dealing in brazil and how they are hooked up with organised crime gangs that really push the violence leval in brazil, she goes after sterilasation, as though that is some kind of big deal when she wont even give real solutions to unwanted children being born. is she willing to take care of the huge amount of unwanted born children?isnt it also interesting that military troops and torture are used to go up in the favelas in rio to bust tons of harmless marijuana…when it is really crack cocaine, arms, and organised crime that is flaming the violence in brazil…and organised crime that is hooked up with rougue military in paraguay, and crack coke drug dealers in bolivia and colombia , hooked up in some big cases with the farcyeah, they have the dry water boarding torture in the bope, like told in the movie tropa do elite, told by ex bope leutenant , pimantao. they scream loudly about the torture of the bank robbing, kidnapping, assasinating, bomb detonating far left mostly white che wanna be revolutianaries in the military dictatorship, but, wont cry a word about torturing harmless marijuana sellers…the hypocracy is mind boggling

  9. Anonymous
    November 13, 2012

    this is a reason i dont trust a lot of far leftist militant activist political agendas coming from people like lucai am a left leaning individual,i have just become disgusted with the hypocracy comeing from the far left, manifested in bogus agendas that actualy take away from the real problemracism is a reality in brazil and should be challenged, but, not with not well thought out , hastily put up , copies of political dogmas brought from elsewhereyes, lets latch on to the well thought out political agendas that actualy mean something and could make a differance in the long run, but lets regect bs bogus dogmad political activist crud that only crates paranoia and stupid reactions and no real solutionshuge amount of black people being killed and killing each other is not good at all, and, racism is not good at all, but, lets look at the whole truth of the matter of racism, organised crime, horrible crack cocaine and arms flooding the country from outside and some of the sources are the farc who were supported by hugo chavez, just so we dont lose focus on who are some of the really destabalising aspects of these conditionsthese are the realities you dont read about or see on the news, unless you really can read between the lines

  10. Pingback: 20 years of the Candelária Church Massacre that claimed the lives of eight and shocked the world | Black Women of Brazil

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