Brazil might be famous for the girl from Ipanema and stereotypical scantily clad women, but the reality it appears, is somewhat different.
Women in Brazil are fighting back against a culture filled with sexual harassment, rejecting proposed legislation restricting access to the morning-after pill and information on abortion for rape victims.
In fact, this movement began after a 12-year-old competitor on the country’s version of Junior Masterchef worryingly found herself at a center of a Twitter storm from men tweeting suggestive messages about her under the show’s hashtag.
Journalist Juliana da Faria soon became aware of the situation which the minor faced. Faria is a prominent member of feminist group, Think Olga, encouraging women to tweet their experiences of being harassed as a minor under the hashtag#primeiroassedio (first harassment).
I was 10, and the older boy down the street groped me at the park and threatened me and my friends. #PrimeiroAssedio
— marissa (@C21H30O2__) November 12, 2015
A guy grabbed my arm & leered I was beautiful, I told him I was 13, he asked me why that mattered, then if I was a virgin. #PrimeiroAssedio
— Elle (@ScienceOfVoices) November 10, 2015
In the space of five days, Think Olga had calculated 82,000 tweets and retweets using the hashtag, reports the Washington Post.
“They can construct their own content.”
“Women can go the internet and mobilize,” commented Faria. “They can construct their own content.” The hashtag has been a break through in an increasingly macho society, where harassment and inappropriate behavior towards women is often ignored or disregarded.
However, as president of the Chamber of Deputies, and Dilma Rousseff’s ‘nemesis’ Eduardo Cunha, is attempting to overthrow current laws in relation to the morning after pill and victims of rape, women across Brazil took to the streets over the weekend. Cunha is known for his conservative views and extreme proposals which have been shaking up the country’s political sphere during the past few months. Notably, his proposed impeachment of Rousseff – which failed to take off.
In Rio de Janeiro around 200 to 300 protesters from the international SlutWalk movement blocked the traffic along the city’s Copacabana esplanade. With messages scrawled across their bodies and wearing only their bras and very little clothing, the main message behind the walk was “My body, my rules.”
SlutWalk is a transnational movement of protest marches which call for an end to rape culture.
Aside from the carnavalesque atmosphere and vibrant protestor mood, there was a grim message behind the march, the fifth version of the event held in Rio de Janeiro.
Brazil has the fifth highest rate of women in the world. In São Paulo alone, a woman is assaulted every 15 seconds according to figures from the United Nations.
“We may face violence anywhere. At school, as a young girl, at work — that’s the culture,” Stephanie Ruas, 26, said.
As women across Brazil continue to fight back, will their requests be heard? Surely the Junior Masterchef scandal is more than enough to highlight the threats and abuse which women face on a daily basis. Worryingly, with Cunha in power, stricter laws in relation to womens’ rights could mean that the SlutWalk’s days are numbered.