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  • Writer's pictureMarina Kontara

8M BRASIL : New crises, old demands: we want to stay alive! For the lives of women!

A year of pandemic crisis combined with one of the deepest economic crises threatens head-on all our gains, as well as making it clear our task of defeating capitalism as a way of guaranteeing our lives, our rights and our future!

On this March 8th, which marks one year of the pandemic in Brazil, we will not take to the streets in big numbers. We will not meet our sisters and comrades and march together for a world where we can fit in. In Brazil, the situation is so drastic that on the 17th of February we broke the terrible record of more than 1500 deaths in a day. The ICU's are full all over the country and to this is added a total absence of any plan to confront the pandemic and for vaccination. At the same time, what we see is a genocidal president who publicly questions the use of masks and social distancing measures. It would be bizarre if it were not tragic.

In this scenario, working women continue to be the most affected, whether by caring for their sick, by being contaminated through domestic work in the house of their employers, in crowded public transport, by unemployment and by the lack of emergency support. More blatantly, we also pay with our wounded bodies. The increase in domestic violence in 2020 showed alarming rates, 179 deaths of women were recorded in the context of domestic violence, one case every two days.

In the Map of Gender Violence published in 2019 the situation was already tragic. Data indicated that in 2017, there were 12,112 records of violence against trans people and 257,764 against homosexual or bisexual people in Brazil. That is, there were 11 assaults against trans people and 214 against homo/bi people in the country, per day! In the same year, 67% of the victims of physical aggression registered in the country were against women. In the Federal District, this rate reached 75%.

In the first semester of 2020, as soon as the pandemic began, the increase was alarming. Data from the Brazilian Public Safety Forum released in May showed an increase in feminicide of around 22.2%, with 143 women killed in 12 states of the country. According to Jamila Jorge Ferrari, coordinator of the women's police stations in the state of São Paulo, there was a 31% increase in cases in April. Even with this increase, that was observed in various regions of the country, the lack of infrastructure and personnel in public facilities such as special police stations, can conceal an underreporting of data. To get an idea of the neglect, the women's police station in the city of Ribeirão das Neves, located in the metropolitan region of Belo Horizonte, remained without a female police officer for several months during the pandemic. The state representative Andreia de Jesus from PSOL (Socialism and Liberty Party) had to notify the civil police and the Security Secretariat of the Zema ("New" party) government in order for a female police officer to be appointed. Experts say that the year 2020 represented a 3% drop in feminicide compared to 2019, which is a contradiction. It is worth remembering that the creation of the online police station does not contemplate a significant part of the women who are raped, since reporting the crime alone and remotely not only does not guarantee safety, but may aggravate the situation if the aggressor realizes what is happening.

That is why we claim that 2020 was a year in which the true statistics was concealed and we cannot use it as a model, or an example of a possible decrease in cases in Brazil. In 2020, São Paulo City hall attended 24,113 women who suffered some type of aggression or abuse. The number of feminicides in the state of Goiás increased by 20% in 2020, as did the number of reports of violence at the women's police station. More than 300 cases of violence against women have already been registered in the state of Espirito Santo in 2021.

"I was stabbed four times in front of my daughter when I was trying to end my marriage. I felt no pain, I only saw the blood running down my clothes. When I got up and looked in the mirror everything came to light. The knife was stuck in my head. I can say, without a shadow of a doubt, that I was born again". This is the emotional account of Fernanda*, 27 years old.- The story was published in the Correio Brasiliense newspaper, in early January.

Fernanda was just one of 54 victims of attempted feminicide recorded between January and November 2020 by the Public Safety Secretariat of the Federal District. In teh state of Rio Grande do Norte, the number of cases of violence against women recorded until October 2020 was already 36% higher compared to the same period in 2019, with 3,580 notifications compared wíth 2,631. The State showed an increase in the number of threats and rape, with a 27.4% increase in threats against women (from 1,265 to the 1,612) and 5.9% of rape going from 204 to 216, of which 61.6% are cases of rape against vulnerable people.

Those who walk in the working class neighbourhoods and favelas, who have been forced to remain working every day, that talk to their neighbours and friends, feel that the situation has worsened. If even when women that have been eöected to office have their lives threatened and nothing is done to stop it, it makes it clear that the situation for ordinary women is even worse.

Political violence targets some bodies!

Three years after the extermination of our comrade Marielle, we still don't know who ordered her murder. The absence of the name of the mastermind does not mean that we do not identify the direction of the attacks. The Bolsonaro government feeds the politics of hate and persecutes those who defend the people, especially that layer to which the voice is denied, silenced.

Even though the space of institutional struggle is limited, it is seen as a risk that the bourgeoisie does not want to take when occupied by women, especially black and socialist women. This occurs because they know that there is a lot of symbolism and concrete struggle in the victory of these comrades.

Black bodies continue to be targeted, whether through threats to black socialist Federal congresswomen like comrade Talíria Petrone, or even affecting the black bodies of trans councilwomen from the PSOL in the city of São Paulo, like our dear Carolina Iara and Samara Sosthenes. This is no small thing! It is a message from the ruling class, or an even more dangerous section of it, saying that they don’t want us alive, that they do not tolerate our agendas and struggle!

Our answer is more collectivity, more action, more work at grassroots level and more anti-capitalist struggle. Protecting our comrades is done by mobilizing all the forces possible to show that they are not alone and that we will occupy more and more spaces, conquer more rights and take to the streets.

Organise now for big mobilisations in the future!

This March 8th we will make a powerful virtual rally in Brazil, with decentralized, smaller and punctual actions in the streets, ensuring sanitary conditions. We know that it will be important, but it will fall short of the needs posed. At the peak of the pandemic, with new strains of Covid and with a genocidal government that has no plans to defend or guarantee life, we need to join forces and organize ourselves to be even more prepared for the counter-attack. What is in question are our lives and the expansion of rights!

We will have to defeat this government and this will only happen with struggle and pressure in the streets. Kick out Bolsonaro, Morão and this neoliberal, anti-working class people, genocidal, sexist agenda that ends up trying to destroy all the rights we have won, our gains achieved through struggle! We are together, and we will be even stronger!

This task will be arduous, but absolutely necessary. For us, socialist feminists, there are no shortcuts to fight for the fullness of our rights, we will have to fight and be prepared to stand against this system that is incapable of guaranteeing lives! We go forward together... together we walk better.

That is why we defend:

  • Out Bolsonaro, Mourão and this neoliberal, anti-working class people, genocidal, sexist agenda!

  • Vaccine now for all! Emergency aid and no job losses until the pandemic is over!

  • For our lives! For 1% of GDP to combat sexist violence!

  • For measures to inhibit political violence and a strong national campaign with workers' organisations!

  • We demand the abolition of the public spending cap now!

  • We demand to know who ordered the killing of Marielle and Anderson! Justice for Marielle!

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