In Parque das Tribos, an indigenous area in Manaus, the capital of the Brazilian state of Amazonas, violence against women is not uncommon.
“As a leader, I have experienced a lot,” says Lutana Ribeiro, a member of the Kokama ethnic group and the only female leader in Parque das Tribos, which has about 4,500 people. “Women knock on my door and ask for help.”
Sparsely populated and relatively isolated in terms of access to air, roads and sea, the state of Amazonas faces particular challenges in accessing public services, including sexual and reproductive health support and responding to gender-based violence.
Huge rise in femicide
In 2021, at least one person called the Brazilian National Police Emergency Service every minute to report domestic violence.. From 2016 to 2021, the rate of femicide, defined as the intentional killing of a woman at least partially motivated by her gender, is reported to have increased by more than 44 percent, with one woman dying as a result of femicide every seven. clock.
In the state of Amazonas, of all the women deliberately murdered by another person, more than one in five were femicide cases..
Ms. Ribeiro, well known in her community as a human rights staunch advocate, recently organized a series of workshops for survivors of gender-based violence that brought together 50 women from the area. “On the first day, few people spoke. Most of them have spoken out today.”
Workshops hosted by the United Nations Agency for Reproductive and Sexual Health, UNFPAexplored different types of violence and explained how to access local social support networks and available remedies.
These include the María da Peña Law, which changed the Brazilian Penal Code in 2006 to allow not only the arrest of aggressors for an act of violence against a woman or girl, but also their detention if there is a risk of them committing such an act. the act was deemed dangerous to human life.
Safe space for women
Ms. Ribeiro described how, from the second day of the workshop, the women were eager to share their experiences with each other and with the UNFPA team. “After the first lecture, many women felt stronger. The next day, people said “enough” of the violence. These men will no longer do what they want with them because now women are more empowered.“.
The workshops aim to train indigenous women to share vital information with their friends, family and peers.
The children also participated in recreational activities so that their mothers could attend. “This initiative was very important for us to become even stronger and gain this support through dialogue and experience,” says Ms. Ribeiro.
“The workshops created a safe space for women to think together about the different forms of violence affecting their daily lives and about coping strategies,” says Deborah Rodriguez, Head of UNFPA Manaus, “which includes expanding supplies and access to services that guarantee protection and rights for the entire Parque das Tribos community.”
With funding from the US Agency for International Development, UNFPA is implementing projects in Brazil’s northern states of Amazonas and Roraima to build local capacity to prevent and respond to gender-based violence.
In 2022, more than 36,000 women and girls benefited from this initiative, gaining increased access to services such as shelters and safe spaces for survivors, as well as workshops that also involve men and boys.
Ms. Ribeiro says that the participants of the Parque das Tribos workshop felt the collective strength, saying: “We, the indigenous people, are not afraid.”