Women with Dilma: “There is a symbolic femicide in the Chamber” says PT deputy Erika Koka

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Source: Brasil de Fato / The Dawn News / April 20, 2016. The impeachment vote against Dilma Rousseff showed gender inequality in the brazilian legislative chamber.

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The vote that was held last Sunday to continue the process of the impeachment against President Dilma Rousseff evidenced the inequality in the representation of women in Brazil. If we relied on the results of the votes casted by female deputies on Sunday, the process would not be sent to the Senate. That’s because only 60% of the female members of the Chamber of Deputies (that is, 29 deputies) voted in favour of the impeachment. Meaning, the result among the women didn’t reach the two thirds that were required for the process to move forward to the Senate.

But of the 513 seats of the Chamber of Deputies, only 51 are occupied by women. The fact that only 10% of all representatives that occupy a seat in the legislative power are women, is a new evidence of the inequality in opportunities and participation that women have in the Brazilian political system.

According to deputy Erika Kokay’s sayings, Congress is a hostile environment for women every day, and last Sunday’s sessions have unmasked that fact. “There is a symbolic femicide in the Chamber. We experience that every day in the Chamber and in the country”, Kokay stated. Regarding last Sunday’s voting, the representative of Brasilia, considered that deputies have shown to be “misogynous fundamentalists”, that are not happy with the space that women have conquered. An example of this was what happened to Clarissa Garotinha, the representative of Rio de Janeiro and member of the Party of the Republic, who is 35 weeks pregnant and was absent from the voting due to medical reasons: however, when her name was called last Sunday, the crowd in the Chamber booed her and accused her of requesting a medical license only to avoid the voting.

Within the Chamber of Deputies, the Workers’ Party is the party with the most amount of female representation, with 8 deputies, follow by the The Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB) which has 7 women, and then the Party of the Republic, with 6. Paradoxically, the Brazilian Women’s Party, which has only one representative, is represented by a man, deputy Weliton Prado, who voted in favour of the impeachment.

According to Fatima Pacheco Jordao, sociologist and counselor or the Patrícia Galvão Institute, gender inequality can be seen by analyzing the political spaces in which women are present. “From the point of view of the reception and political participation, left-wing parties are usually more receptive to women’s participation. Women have a better chance in reaching the leadership in these parties, unlike what happens in right-wing parties”, she analysed.

Deputy from the Workers’ Party said: “It’s natural to see more women voting against the coup than men”. “Women that only now are reaching public spaces that previously were exclusively for men, tend to have a more accurate understanding of the meaning of democracy and the defense of the rights that have been conquered, a very intense conviction about the value of democracy as a universal concept”, she expressed. According to Erika Kokay, this same logic can be applied to other social groups as black, indigenous, lesbians, bisexual and transgender people, and other sectors, that are not represented and, evenmore, have always had their rights violated.

The reasons that which deputies gave before casting their votes is an example of this structural exclusion. Native peoples were mentioned by only two deputies, five mentioned youth, while 92 mentioned their families and 43 voted in the name of God. “[On Sunday], all the deputies, without exception, had the opportunity to talk and show their true colors, and most of them are people who do not consider the Parliament to be an organism for the representation of the Brazilian people. This is an indication of the precariousness of representative democracy”, criticized the Workers’ Party deputy.

Culture of hate

The militant from the Black Movement, Stephanie Ribeiro, stated that “right-wing parties don’t appreciate diversity”, highlighting the racism there is in the public arena. According to her argumentation, apart from misinformation and depoliticization, Brazil is a society that sustains the culture of hate, “which is definitely well represented in Parliamentarians”. “There is massive hate towards women, black people, and the LGBT movement, that ended up setting these deputies where they are now”.

“It’s not only in the way they expressed themselves, when they said ‘my family, my grandchildren, my opinion’— they do not respect diversity. That was evident, because none of them criticized the government for the public policies that were implemented in these years”, said Stephanie, on the speeches of Deputies during the voting on Sunday.

“If we lived in a country that had a democratic system and didn’t hate minorities, most of the population would be on the streets now, disgusted for what they did. People are more shocked with the fact that Jean Wyllys [deputy of the PSOL-RJ, representative of the LGBT struggle] spit on [Jair] Bolsonaro [of the PSC-RJ], but they do not reject the fact that Bolsonaro defended a murderer [in reference to the fact that, when voting, Bolsonaro dedicated his vote to Colonel Brilhante Ustra, a known torturer during the military dictatorship] in the Congress. Nobody felt shocked about that. This should not be accepted”, affirmed the militant of the black movement.

She assures that a political reform will increase the representation of women and black people. “Our Congress is made up of men who are sons of politicians or landowners… People are living in 2016 as if we were still in colonial Brazil”,  concluded Stephanie.


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