Note from BW of Brazil: Tomorrow is the big day! For the past few years we’ve updated you on the historic first March of Black Women that will take place in the nation’s capital in less than 24 hours. For reasons that this blog has dedicated itself to for the past four years, black women have plenty to march for. Besides one report that shows black women being the majority of domestic violence victims, a recently released report that provided data of the grim reality of the violent death of black women in Brazil. Problems that must be placed high on the priority list. Adding to the original numbers we posted last week, analyzing the numbers, we learn that:
“In one year, 66.7% more black women were killed than white women in Brazil, according to the Mapa da Violência (Map of Violence) report for 2015. In one decade the index of victimization of black women, a calculation that resulted from the relation between the rates of mortality of both the races,grew 190% in the whole country, a number that passed 300% in some states such as Amapá, Pará and Pernambuco.”
When we figure in these shocking numbers with the existence of everyday racism, invisibility and general under-appreciation, and there should be no question as to the reasons black women called for a national march three years ago. No doubt, the title of today’s piece will probably become a rallying slogan tomorrow in the nation’s capital!
Brazil, stop killing black women!
By Walmyr Junior
Bringing out the sad reality faced by black women in Brazil is not an easy task, especially when you come from a matriarchal home, as in my case, that has the figure of my grandmother as a reference. Grandma faced many challenges to survive. She faced hunger, unemployment, abandonment of her husband, evictions, imprisonment of her son and nephews, submitting herself to visiting them in the prison system and going through all the body searches to see my uncle and my cousins in jail.
This woman, of whom I am very proud, is a portrait of resistance and struggle, is the portrait of another survivor. The story of my grandmother can be compared to the story of many other black women, which is the fruit of the same social class going through all of these problems. Unfortunately it is difficult to make any comparison when we have a factor that I want to highlight in this column: the black woman in Brazil is in a process of annihilation, she directly suffers the impacts of genocide that is ongoing in our national territory.
According to the Mapa da Violência (Map of Violence), prepared by FLACSO (Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences), homicides of black women increased 54% in ten years in Brazil, from 1,864 in 2003 to 2,875 in 2013. While in the same period the number of homicides of white women fell 9.8%, from 1,747 in 2003 to 1,576 in 2013.
Highlighting gender violence, the survey reveals that, in Brazil, 55.3% of these crimes occurred in the home, and 33.2% committed by partners or ex-partners, and 50.3% are committed by family members, such as parents , siblings and other degrees of relatives of the victims.
For Ludmila Jardim, of the Kizomba Movement, affirmative action policies such as the Maria de Penha Law are fundamental, but somehow, the information that reaches women is very limited. “The debate that we make through feminism doesn’t reach all women, whether in the city or the countryside, women from the favela (slum) or the periphery. They cannot access the very laws that protect us, often they don’t know how to ask for help in a case of violence.”
The young student affirms that having women who don’t recognize oppression, “usually older women feel even obliged to serve their husbands, and they find it common in some way to be beaten, for example, for having done something he didn’t like. When it comes to us, young black women, we perceive an explicit profile, as many of us are in the suburbs, or in very vulnerable conditions, already born marginalized by the rest of society, theses factors that are structured by machismo.”
For social worker and militant of the Movimento Negro Unificado (Unified Black Movement or MNU), Cristiana Luiz, the research data dialogues with the place that the black woman is placed in this society, which makes her vulnerable to the extent that their rights are more difficult to be secured. “In the case of black women there are two dimensions overlapping in an inseparable way and because of that this woman is more socially ‘unprotected’. I think the data portray a little of how universal policies are not enough to guarantee of rights in an equitable way, as it does not reach all men and women alike in their specificities.”
“As racism is structural, it is a determining factor in these data. The black woman is seen as a thing, as something available etc. We cannot work on policies of gender detached from racism. It’s necessary that the policies look at this black woman who is the base of the pyramid. So we can see the effect of sexism and racism in these numbers,” affirmed Cristiana.
Some of these women that overcome the statistics struggle for the guarantee of empowerment of black women. They play a leading role in the deconstruction process of the current patterns of sociability and self organize to combat racism.
On 18 November, in Brasília, the Marcha Nacional das mulheres negras (National March of black women) will be held. The intention is to bring together as many black women’s organizations, as well as other organizations of the black movement, without exempting the support of women’s organizations and all types of organizations that support socio-racial and gender equality. We demand that Brazil stop exterminating black people now and that it ends femincide in our territory of which the black woman suffers.
* Walmyr Júnior is resident of Marcílio Dias in the group of Maré favelas, is a professor and representative of the Coletivo Enegrecer como Consela heiro Nacional de Juventude (Conjuve or Enegrecer Collective as National Council of Youth). He is part of the Pastoral Universitária at PUC-Rio. He represented civil society in a meeting with Pope Francis at the Municipal Theater, during JMJ.