Brazil’s tough laws on violence against women stymied by social norms

Melanie Hargreaves – The Guardian, 5/12/2015

As the negotiations continue towards agreeing a set of sustainable development goals (SDGs) to come into effect next year, tackling gender inequality remains high on the agenda.

The current draft of the SDGs contains a standalone goal on the issue, which includes a specific target to “eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation”.

It’s a welcome move – and certainly more hard-hitting than the gender equality requirements of the millennium development goals, which saw donor countries target aid at education and health in developing countries, while ignoring other areas crucial to women’s rights, such as countering gender-based violence.

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On Mother’s Day, Brazil Is Sending Its Convicts Home to See Their Moms

Benjamin Soloway – Foreign Policy, 5/10/2015

All over the world, people are forgetting to call their mothers on this second Sunday of May. Get on that, if you live in one of the dozens of countries celebrating Mother’s Day on May 10 this year. In Brazil, Dia das Mães is an unusually big deal. Families gather for celebrations and meals. The retail sector sees a spike in business topped only by Christmas. And thousands of prisoners are released temporarily so that they can go home to visit the women who raised them.

Prisoners in Brazil who demonstrate good behavior and meet other requirements are allowed to take five breaks from prison per year: Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Children’s Day, Christmas, and one additional, flexible day. During the Christmas furlough two years ago, 47,531 inmates across Brazil left prison on temporary release. Some 2,400 never bothered to return. The Department of Corrections in São Paulo did not respond immediately to questions regarding the size of this year’s mass furlough.

More than 550,000 Brazilians are behind bars — the fourth largest prison population in the world, after the United States, China, and Russia. By most measures, Brazil’s prisons are in horrid shape, plagued by severe overcrowding and rampant violence. In 2013, nearly 60 inmates were murdered — in a single prison. An investigation uncovered that gang leaders were systematically raping inmate’s wives during conjugal visits there as well. In another facility, three prisoners were beheaded during a riot. And beneath the searing horrors that make international headlines, ordinary prisoners face terrible miscarriages of justice, often waiting for years in overcrowded group cells just to stand trial. While spared some of the violence male inmates face, women prisoners also contend with harsh conditions of confinement and abusive treatment, according to Human Rights Watch.

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Brazil’s Senate Tells Maduro to Defend Human Rights

PanAm Post, 5/6/2015

The Brazilian Senate passed a vote of no-confidence on Tuesday against Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro over the “arbitrary detention” of members of the opposition.

The text, written by Senator Roberto Jucá of the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB), “rejects” the arrests of the mayor of Caracas, Antonio Ledezma — imprisoned since February— and opposition leader Leopoldo López, who has been in jail for 14 months, as well as the detention of other dissidents.

The body approved the text on the eve of a visit by López’s and Ledezma’s wives, Mitzy Capriles and Lilian Tintori respectively, to the Brazilian Congress to present allegations of human-rights violations in Venezuela.

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Mapped: One-in-five murder victims in world is Brazilian, Colombian or Venezuelan

Andrew Marszal and Harriet Alexander – The Telegraph, 5/7/2015

One-in-five murder victims around the world is Brazilian, Colombian or Venezuelan, a study has shown, despite the three countries containing less than four per cent of the world’s total population.

The Homicide Monitor data project compiled by the Brazil-based Instituto Igarape reveals the high rates of homicide around Latin America and the Caribbean, where a third of all of the world’s homicides occur.

The region contains only eight per cent of the world’s total population. Honduras (85.5 murders per 100,000 inhabitants), Venezuela (53.7) and the US Virgin Islands (46.9) have the highest murder rates per population in the world.

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Brazilian executed in Indonesia unaware what was happening until end: witness

Jane Wardell – Reuters, 4/29/2015

A Brazilian man executed in Indonesia for drug trafficking who was diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder did not understand what was happening to him until his final moments, a priest assigned as his spiritual adviser told Australia’s ABC radio on Thursday.

Rodrigo Muxfeldt Gularte was among eight people convicted of drug offences from several countries who were executed shortly after midnight on Wednesday morning.

Brazil had made repeated personal pleas for Indonesia to commute his sentence on humanitarian grounds, citing his mental illness.

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Brazilian torture survivor Ines Etienne Romeu dies

BBC News, 4/28/2015

The only survivor of a torture centre where the Brazilian military regime interrogated opponents in the 1970s has died at the age of 72.

Ines Etienne Romeu memorised the names of her abusers and the location of what became known as the House of Death in Petropolis near Rio de Janeiro. Her testimony for Brazil’s Truth Commission was key in exposing human rights abuses under military rule.

In 2003 she survived an attack in her home that left her unable to speak. The intruder was never identified.

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‘We’re going to resist': Brazil’s indigenous groups fight to keep their land in face of new law

Claire Rigby – The Guardian, 4/23/2015

From downtown São Paulo, the Pico do Jaraguá – the crest of a mountain ridge on the city’s north-western horizon – looks like a broken tooth, crowned by a towering TV antenna. Just beyond the rocky peak and down a steep, deeply rutted, unmade road, lies the nascent village of Tekoa Itakupe, one of the newest fronts in Brazil’s indigenous people’s struggle for land to call their own.

Once part of a coffee plantation, the idyllic 72-hectare plot is currently occupied by three families from the Guarani community who moved onto the land in July 2014 after it was recognised as traditional Guarani territory by Funai, the federal agency for Indian affairs.

The group had hoped that would be a first step on the road to its eventual official demarcation as indigenous territory, but they now face eviction after a judge granted a court order to the landowner, Antônio ‘Tito’ Costa, a lawyer and former local politician.

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