It is in in every newspaper of the world because it hosts the Olympic Games; it dazzles with its colors, and the rhythm of its music, the stunning beauty of its land. Yet, there are very dark shadows right beyond the spotlight. We are talking about Brazil, which in addition to dealing with favelas and social diversity, obtained another lowest record: according to the latest report of the Brazilian Forum of Security, a rape happens every 11 minutes in the country, considering only reported cases.
Isadora Dos Santos, chief coordinator of cooperatives that promote solidarity economy, Unisol, exposed the daily consequences of a highly sexist national culture that blames – perhaps more than elsewhere – the victims of abuse. “The case of the 33 people who had raped a 16-year-old girl in Rio de Janeiro, posting the video on the web later on, did not happen that long ago. The girl was a drug trafficker’s girlfriend. The man belonged to the “favela” Morro da Barao in Jacarepagua. One of the run-down areas in the western part of Rio de Janeiro.
“In the meantime – says Isadora -, the Parliament has just approved a law that makes it harder to report rape. Besides, it further restricts the possibility for women victims of violence to have an abortion or use the morning-after pill”. So far, Isadora’s statements and the close chronicle of what is going on in the Brazilian Parliament, although we must point out that any kind of interruption of life cannot have our approval, regardless of the reason why. What is left, is the horror of a “practice” such as rape, which has to be eradicated.
“Brazilian society is very traditional and daily practices are sexist, as in many other countries around the world,” said Isadora. This awareness about violence is shared not only by Isadora, but also by many women who, last time, took to the streets to protest against rape and femicide cases in Brazil. The latter are considered a consequence of a deeply rooted sexist culture that encourages dehumanization and violence against women. The press defined these protests the “Feminist Spring”, but we are still far from a true collective consciousness.
Is Brazil a land of orcs? Not really. Before blaming an entire people, it is worth making a global analysis, to see what happens elsewhere. A survey conducted by Thomson Reuters – for example – defines India the fourth most dangerous country in the world for women and the worst one of G20. What determines such a grey description of India are not only cases of rape, but a whole framework of violent gender discrimination, in which police forces and the judiciary partake tolerating such behaviors all too often. It is estimated that over two million women disappear every year, already in the uterus (because of the scourge of selective abortions), but also due to female infanticide and discrimination in medical care. Moreover, there are also marriages at an early age and teenage pregnancies. Finally, talking about violence, we cannot forget the traditional subordination of women’s dignity to her being a wife and a mother above all (especially of male children) and cases when acid is used to disfigure their bodies.
We learn about horrifying acts from the news and inevitably think of Brazil or India as “moral sewers”. Yet, are we sure that these are actually the worst countries in the world? This type of charts are very “volatile”, the change every year, depending on who makes them and on the changes that happen in the various countries. This being said for the sake of fair treatment, we cannot but note that the last “global” research of the first 25 countries in the world (with cross-checks made between various sources) concerning cases of rapes, we find some surprising results we would have never thought about. The second place goes to Sweden, the seventh –to Australia, the eighth – to Belgium. The ninth place goes to the US, the fifteenth –to Norway. The 17th and 21st – to Finland and Ireland. Even Germany, in the heart of Europe, is among those first 25 countries. Rio – with all its problems – will host athletes from every nation, but it is clear that no one can teach morals to any other. The numbers we have described conceal stories, tragedies, and reflection. Learn to know before judging. Then act against violence on a cultural level, in every corner of the world,.. starting with our homes.