About the violence against women in Brazil

I’m writing this in English, so more people can understand what is happening now in my country. This weekend, Brazilian students from all over the country went to take the ENEM (the examination required for university admittance, like the SATs in the US or the Abitur in Germany, for example). The theme of the essay was violence against women in our society. This generated a lot of controversy amongst the students, with some declaring that the subject was exactly what we needed to address, whilst others remarking that the person who decided on this subject was simply a “feminist”.

Here is the question that was asked in the exam: the ongoing violence against women in Brazilian Society. I have also attached the original post in Portuguese.

Just to give you some context around the subject, 3 out of 5 women in Brazil confessed to have suffered some kind of domestic violence and 56% of men have admitted to an act of aggression towards their partner. Those acts include: cursing, pushing, slapping, punching, forbidding their partners from leaving the house, and rape. To add to this, the number of women who have been murdered has risen by more than 230% in the last 20 years. This is serious, but at the same time most women remain quiet from fear of bearing even more violence, or even death by their parter if they speak out. For others, speaking out means shame and marginalisation by society. Women are frequently told “You shouldn’t contradict your husband…” or “If you weren’t such a whore, this probably would not have happened to you”.

To my dismay, the comments i have seen surrounding the essay question have reinforced my worst fears around the subject. Men (AND Women) both claiming that the topic is “feminist”, without really understanding what it means to be a feminist. Comments went to such heights as to suggest the people (implying that they were women) who decided on the essay question should get back to the kitchen or find something else to do.

After more than 50 years following Simone de Beauvoir’s feminist manifesto, its clear we still have a long way to go. Especially when we talk about women and education, as can be seen in this example.

What I hope, and what I am trying to do with this article, is foster more discussion around the issue — one which is amongst Brazil’s top socio-economic challenges. We need to provide a platform so that more people can speak freely about it, without fear of harm or marginalisation. If we want real progress to be made towards gender equality, we need to bring this to the forefront of our Brazil’s political agenda. For this, we must be indignant.