Originally titled: “Os jovens negros morrem e as mulheres negras também morrem (Young black men are dying and black women are also dying)”
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
Seminar highlights black women’s health and unequal access to health care
Brazil: Bias in medical treatment of blacks; Of deaths related to childbirth, 80% are black
According to sociologist, in the northeastern state of Alagoas, while one white is killed, 20 blacks are ‘exterminated’”