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The Everyday Violence Suffered by Black Women in Brazil was the topic of debate Held by CESE and SOS Corpo

CESE and SOS Corpo – The Feminist Institute for Democracy held a public event at the Art Museum of Bahia (MAM) in Salvador, Bahia, on 9th November, within the scope of the ”Everyday Black Women: Mapping Paths and Constructing Rights” project evaluation meeting.  The meeting was held by CESE and SOS CORPO and has been supported by European Union funding since 2015. The event brought together leaders form the women’s and black movement from states in the north and northeast, public administrators, congressmen and leaders of the grassroots movement.

The event’s aim was to give visibility to black women’s situation of vulnerability from the monologue ‘’This is not a mulata (mixed race woman)’’, interpreted by the actress and journalist Mônica Santana.  In the performance, Mônica touched on the experiences, feelings and resilience, which are part of the everyday violence black women suffer from in Brazil. Following the theatrical presentation, two participants from the evaluation meeting were invited to start a conversation with reflections stemming from the performance.

Terlúcia Maria da Silva of Bamidelê – Black Women’s Organization from Paraíba, commented that the show produced the experiences, feelings, pain and fear that black women feel on a daily basis. ‘’It is impossible not to see yourself in some of these roles. The black body in a racist society brings vulnerabilities. We are in these locations of hypersexuality and invisibility everyday but now we are at some of the places that the colonizer did not put us, such as universities. Fragility is a myth for black women. We have never experienced this; we do not benefit from men’s affection and this different trajectory exposes us to a range of rights violations. In the social imaginary, we are intellectually incapable women but have a physical strength and are only useful for sex. Violence against black women is a growing phenomenon. There is a three times higher risk of a black woman being raped than a white woman.  This image is naturalized and we have been going through a process of denial since childhood. This leads to a weakened racial identity; the denial of being black, and a lack of black representativeness. Black women’s political affirmation is problematic. It is as if it cannot be expressed, as their place is predetermined: for sweeping and sex. Lelia Gonzales spoke of the perverse social imaginary associated to black women: as wet nurse and servant… This imaginary does not remain in the past or on the TV screen. It is in daily life, in the increased femicide of black women, with not one public policy to tackle this violence. And even the advances made by a progressive government have not reached us. Black women have a history of rights violations but also one of resistance, which has been expressed by the Black Women’s March throughout the country. Racism is a problem of Brazilian society and will only be resolved when everyone is willing to tackle it.’’

Valéria de Jesus Carneiro, of the Coordination of Remaining Quilombola Community Associations of Pará – MALUNGU, revealed that she felt great emotion from the performance, seeing her own story in the play’s text.  ‘’Black women are seen from the neck downwards. The black people, who survived the slave ships and constructed the country, should be respected. Instead they face every type of violation and the growth of public policies for urban and rural black people is being undermined. For example, today there was a vote on ADIN 3239 – Direct Action of Unconstitutionality – which questions the procedure for identifying, recognizing, delimiting, demarcating and registering the land occupied by remaining quilombola communities, as established by Decree nº 4.887/2003. Judgment was adjourned again on 9th November, 2017, as the minister, Dias Toffoli, requested access to the case files”.

“Believing in the strength of social movements and that of black women, and grassroots sectors in particular, to tackle the on-going political conservatism in Brazilian society, with another of these meetings, we want to provide a space for members of women’s organizations and movements, for them to discuss and position themselves on the country’s current situation, in addition to giving a voice and visibility to everyday black women’s cause”, highlights the CESE project and training consultant, Rosana Fernandes.

For Sílvia Camurça of SOS Corpo, the women targeted for the action are part of the segment most affected by the threats to rights in this current setting. “It is about everyday black women who will be affected by all the cuts in social policies which are being imposed by the fiscal adjustment. This policy, which has proven problematic around the world, will be more serious in Brazil, due to the enormous inequality and racism, which structure our society”, she confirms. Camurça believes these meetings and debates allow women to think collectively and to build strategies for their movements to adopt in the struggle for resistance, to defend their rights. “And we hope that it contributes towards strengthening these people”, she concludes.

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