Brazil: The art of preventing violence against women
“A welcoming space”
Date: Tuesday, September 6, 2016
Sueny Nogueira, a 25-year-old circus performer in Brazil, has been inspired by projects run by the Casa da Mulher Trabalhadora (CAMTRA – the “House of Women Workers”), an organization that works to prevent violence against marginalized groups of young women in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and build a just and equal society.
“Before I didn’t talk much about this,” she said. “[But] within the movement and feminist spaces I could realize how much we suffer and we must be united.”
A particularly brutal gang rape of a 16-year-old girl in Rio de Janeiro in May 2016 prompted a public outcry at the prevalence and persistence of violence against women and girls in the city. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women, called for “zero tolerance for violence against women and girls” in response to the attack and said “the risks are highest for the most vulnerable”.
Indeed, over half the survivors of physical violence in Rio de Janeiro are young women, and young, black women living in poverty are particularly at risk. Yet many programmes that address violence against women in Brazil do not focus on these groups. The UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women (UN Trust Fund) is supporting CAMTRA to fill this gap.
CAMTRA stages artistic and cultural events in areas where there are large concentrations of young people in order to raise awareness about violence against women and girls. The events highlight issues that include human trafficking, sexual exploitation and technology-related violence perpetrated through videos and photos.
CAMTRA has already run three training sessions involving more than 70 young women in Rio de Janeiro. Twice that number of applicants could not be enrolled due to lack of capacity, highlighting the desire for such projects.
During the training supported by the UN Trust Fund, CAMTRA helps young people understand their rights and facilitates discussions about violence, sexism, racism, homophobia and sexuality. It then organizes activities and outreach in the participants’ communities to reach other young women in a more informal manner.
A recent event included a friendly football match followed by a dynamic presentation that involved young people discussing sexuality, race, ethnicity and religion. Through such initiatives, CAMTRA aims to create a peer network able to deliver information to prevent violence against women and girls.
Sueny Nogueira says she finds CAMTRA “a welcoming space” in which women can share experiences and “remember the strength we black women have”.