When Dilma Rousseff was president of Brazil, she didn’t always generate a sense of togetherness between feminists.
There was a lack of advances in reproductive rights and in education. However, just about all feminists agree that Rousseff’s impeachment was sexist and discriminatory.
Those who voted for her impeachment are being investigated for corruption. Since the impeachment, thousands of women across Brazil have come together. Prior to the impeachment, politicians passed a series of bills that chipped away at women’s rights. Other bills prohibit the discussion of gender in the National Education Plan and to further criminalize legal abortion for victims of rape.
In addition, there were moves to make it difficult to access emergency contraception and to increase the penalty for abortion in the wake of the Zika virus. At the same time, violence against women is still an epidemic and there is a widespread acceptance of sexual violence. More than 1 million women undergo illegal abortions every year.
Over the past year, hundreds of thousands of women have protested on the streets and through social media against sexual violence and sexist bills aiming to limit their reproductive rights.
Younger women and girls are using social media and technology to become informed on women’s issues. They are receiving support through Internet-based campaigns. Between October 2015 and January 2016, the search for the word “feminism” on Google in Brazil rose by 86 percent.
Despite this increased action, the situation is still dark. Current president Michel Temer has taken Brazil backwards in terms of women’s rights. Under his all-white, all-male administration, they are attempting to undermine the Maria de Penha Law which was a landmark victory to increase domestic violence convictions.
The final insult has been Temer’s appointment of Fatima Pelaes as the secretary of politics for women. She has previously declared that she does not support abortion as a legal option for women who have been raped.
In the midst of turmoil, feminists are taking a stand and reminding Brazil of the need to reinstate Dilma Rousseff in order to implement reform and guarantee human rights.
Until then, they will continue to shout: “Without women, there is no democracy. Without feminism, there is not democracy.”