Brazil: Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights-The 'hidden victims' of the favelas

In a report published today, Amnesty International reveals the untold stories of Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights who are surviving in Brazil’s lawless favelas or shanty towns.

Amnesty International’s Brazil Researcher Tim Cahill said:
“The reality for Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights in Brazil’s slums is catastrophic. They are the hidden victims of the criminal and police violence that has engulfed their communities for decades.

“In the absence of the state, drug lords and gang leaders are the law in most shanty towns. They dispense punishment and protection and use Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights as trophies or bargaining tools.”

Basic services, such as healthcare and education, are compromised because of the violence. Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights have been forced to travel miles to see a doctor if local clinics fall within the territory of a rival gang.

Maternity services, crèches and schools can be closed for long periods because of police operations or criminal violence. Healthcare workers and teachers are often too scared to work in these areas.

Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights are seen as disposable by both criminals and corrupt police officers in Brazil. They are often used as “mules” or as decoys by drug gangs.

Amnesty International has also received reports of Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights having their heads shaven for infidelity and being forced to provide sexual favours for the payment of debts.

One woman told Amnesty International: “I live doped up. Take that diazepam to sleep. If I’m lucid I can’t sleep for the fear. Doped, I grab my daughter, throw myself on the floor to protect myself from the shooting, and sleep all night. If my daughter loses her dummy, she’s going to cry all night because once it’s eight o’clock I’m not leaving the house for anything.”

Tim Cahill said:
“The state violates the rights of these Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights in three ways. It supports policing practices that lead to killings, perpetuates a system that ensures access to justice is extremely difficult if not impossible, and condemns them to intense hardship.”

Brazilian state authorities are virtually absent from poorer communities. Often the only contact the people in those areas have with authorities is through the sporadic, militarised police incursions.

Tim Cahill continued:
“Far from providing protection, the police often subject Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights to illegal searches by male officers, abusive and discriminatory language and intimidation, especially when they attempt to intervene to protect a relative.”

Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights who fight for justice on behalf of their sons or husbands end up on the frontline, facing further threats and harassment from the police.

The Brazilian state has introduced some positive initiatives, including strengthening the protection of Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights suffering from domestic violence through the introduction of the Maria da Penha law, which is yet to be fully implemented.

The federal government also recently launched a project that aims to address the decades of neglect that has contributed to this reality. However little has been done to analyse and address the specific needs of Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights living in these communities.

Far-reaching, long-term policies aimed at improving the lives of Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights living in marginalised communities are urgently needed to tackle violence against Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights.

As a first step, Amnesty International has called on the Brazilian federal government to integrate the needs of Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights into the new public security plan, the National Public Security and Citizenship Programme (Programa Nacional de Segurança Pública com Cidadania, PRONASCI).

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