‘We are not afraid’: Indigenous Brazilian women stand up against gender violence

In Parque das Tribos, an indigenous population in Manaus, the capital of the Brazilian state of Amazonas, violence against women is not uncommon.

“As a leader, I have experienced many things,” said Lutana Ribeiro, a member of the Kokama ethnic group and the only female chief of Parque das Tribos, home to about 4,500 people. “Women knock on my door asking for help.”

Sparsely populated and relatively isolated by air, land and sea, the state of Amazonas faces particular challenges in accessing public services, including reproductive and sexual health support. education as well as responding to gender-based violence.

Indigenous Brazilian women discuss gender-based violence in UNFPA workshop.

UNFPA Brazil/Isabela Martel

Indigenous Brazilian women discuss gender-based violence in UNFPA workshop.

Huge increase in the killing of women

In 2021, every minute at least one person calls the national police emergency number in Brazil to report domestic violence. Between 2016 and 2021, the homicide rate for women – defined as the intentional killing of a woman, at least partly motivated by her gender – is reported to have increased by more than 44%, for every seven of them, one woman died from the murder of a woman. hour.

In the state of Amazonas, of all women intentionally killed by others, more than a fifth are homicides..

Ms. Ribeiro, who is well known in the community as a staunch defender of human rights, recently organized a series of workshops for survivors of gender-based violence attended by 50 women in the area. area. “On the first day, very few people spoke. Today, most of them have spoken out.”

The workshops, run by the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency, UNFPAexplores different types of violence and explains how to access local social support networks and existing legal protection mechanisms.

These include the Maria da Penha Law, which changed Brazil’s penal code in 2006 to not only allow the arrest of aggressors for acts of violence against women or girls, but also allow them to be arrested. detention, if there is a risk of them committing the act. an act that is considered a threat to one’s life.

Paintings by children of indigenous Brazilian women participating in UNFPA workshops.

UNFPA Brazil/Isabela Martel

Paintings by children of indigenous Brazilian women participating in UNFPA workshops.

Safe space for women

Ms. Ribeiro described that from the second day of the workshop, the women were eager to share their experiences with each other and with the UNFPA team. “After the first lecture, many women feel stronger. The next day, people say ‘enough’ to violence. These men will no longer do what they want with them, because now women are more empowered..”

The workshops aim to train women from indigenous communities to help spread life-saving information among their friends, family, and colleagues.

Children also participate in recreational activities that their mothers can attend. “This initiative is very important for us to become stronger every day and get this support through dialogue and experience,” Ms. Ribeiro said.

“The workshops created a safe space for women to come together to reflect on the different forms of violence affecting their daily lives,” said Débora Rodrigues, head of the UNFPA office in Manaus. and on coping strategies. for services that ensure the protection and rights of all the Parque das Tribos communities”.

With financial support from the United States Agency for International Development, UNFPA is working on projects across the northern Brazilian states of Amazonas and Roraima to strengthen local capacity to prevent and respond to violence. gender force.

By 2022, more than 36,000 women and girls have benefited from this initiative, with increased access to services such as shelters and safe spaces for survivors, as well as survivors. workshops with the participation of men and boys.

Ms Ribeiro said the Parque das Tribos workshop participants felt collectively invigorated, affirming: “We, as indigenous people, are not afraid.”


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