Declaration against political violence in Brazil and in solidarity with Talíria Petrone
Political violence is a serious problem in Brazil that has not been taken seriously by Brazilian institutions. Last year, Jean Wyllys, a gay congressman from the Socialism and Liberty Party (PSOL) had to leave the country under death threats. The murder of Marielle Franco, a city councillor from Rio de Janeiro representing PSOL, was an emblematic example of this situation. Marielle, a black woman who loved women, was a socialist and a human rights defender. She was brutally executed on March 14, 2018, in a political crime that has not yet been solved.
Unfortunately, many other women, who also took on the task of defending the right to life of the vast majority of the population and fundamental matters for democracy in institutional spaces, have to deal with a scenario of daily attacks. This is the case of Talíria Petrone, PSOL's congresswoman from Rio de Janeiro, who started her public life in parallel with Marielle, sharing the difficulties of being a black woman in local parliaments.
Talíria Petrone lives under constant death threats for using her mandate to advocate for matters such as the expansion of civil rights and the end of the genocide of black people in Brazil. Since taking office in the Chamber of Deputies, she has been officially notified of six reports of plans for her execution. Although she is an elected parliamentarian with more than 100,000 votes, her protection is not fully guaranteed by the state.
We know that this is a sad reality for many left-wing women parliamentarians, especially black ones, around the world. In countries marked by colonization processes and with histories of instability and institutional weakness, this is even worse. In Brazil, women who put their bodies at the disposal of the struggle to confront power structures and occupy the parliament with voices that represent favelas, indigenous communities, immigrants, and people persecuted and criminalized by the State are one of the main targets of the rising politics of hate.
According to a recent study by the civil society organizations Terra de Direitos and Global Justice, women represent 76% of the targets of political violence cases in Brazil. Attacks against them have specificities such as challenging their authorities as political agents.
This scenario constitutes a powerful obstacle to overcome conservatism and to deepen democracy around the world. In order for women to be able to dispute and occupy spaces of power, they must be assured the right to position themselves in the public sphere free from threats, constraints and discrimination. Above all, it is necessary to ensure that they are alive.
Attacks on women and black bodies should not be naturalized in any context, including in the exercise of parliamentary mandates and in electoral processes. The idea that power should not be occupied by those who represent more than half of the population should not be a message sent to the population. There should be no institutional space in which women are prohibited or discouraged from being present.
The fight against gender and race-based political violence is a task for all of us. That is why we express our solidarity and support for federal deputy Talíria Petrone and all Brazilian women, especially black ones, who are parliamentarians and candidates, and we urge Brazilian institutions to take effective measures to ensure their safety.
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