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News > Latin America

Racism in Brazil Spells Homicides Against Black Women

  • A Brazilian security official patrols a working-class neighborhood.

    A Brazilian security official patrols a working-class neighborhood. | Photo: Reuters

Published 9 November 2017

In 2003, Black women were killed 23 percent more often than white women, increasing to a staggering 67 percent in 2013.

“We recognize that violence in Brazil is not a phenomenon that strikes all sectors the same way, on the contrary, it's constructed as a social phenomenon based on gender and race, that is to say, from racism and patriarchy," said Bruna Cristina Jaquetto Pereira, a visiting researcher from the University of Berkeley in California.

Black People Are a 'Genocide Project' in Brazil Says Researcher

Pereira emphasized, however, that the absence of data outlining fundamental inequalities based on race, gender and class, and how this factored into those deaths, renders a society that negates such problems exist at all.

Meanwhile, Paula Sant'Anna Machado de Souza, assistant coordinator for Sao Paulo's Nucleus of Development and Defense of Women's Rights, outlined several aspects that determine access to the mechanism of justice depending on one's skin color.

“A series of obstacles stand in the way of Black women accessing justice, more than white women. All of the politics that we've been discussing since the creation of the Maria da Penha Law still has a color, a social class to which it is intended.”

Another aggravant, according to Machado de Souza, is the reality of police violence, and other forms of physical and mental abuse, faced by the Black community and people who live in poor, peripheral neighborhoods. She concluded that such daily acts are an indictment of public policy failures.

The report comes on the heels of 2016 figures indicating that 4,657 women were murdered in Brazil last year, one every two hours.

The 2015 Violence Map survey showed that while the number of homicides committed against white women had decreased, the homicide rate for Black women had increased.

In 2003, Black women were killed on average 23 percent more often than white women, according to Carta Capital, increasing to a staggering 67 percent in 2013.

In Brazil, 12,000 Women Are Victims of Violence Every Day

David Marques, a researcher at the Brazilian Forum on Public Safety, confessed that there's been a “deterioration of public safety policies. The strategies that have been historically adopted in this field are not working out.”

Responding to such official uncertainty has been Pereira's master's degree thesis, published as a book titled, "Challenges and Dramas: Of Gender and Color." During a series of interviews with Black women, she concluded that researchers and authorities tasked with providing reliable information and developing public policies based on equality don't even bother making connections between “homicides and racism in Brazil.”

She went on to affirm that there's been little attempt to comprehend how gender and race weigh in on the exacerbated number of Black women killed in Brazil last year, nevertheless, “both questions are operative when we're speaking about violence.”

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