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Women's WG

Justice for Brazilian Women: An Interview with Virginia Feix

by Shelley Anderson

Virginia Feix works as a lawyer in the human rights commission of the state assembly in Porto Alegre. It was a natural step for her, as she had been working on human rights issues--specifically, amnesty for prisoners of the dictatorship--since 1985. While the changes since then have encouraged her, "all the apparatus for oppressing the people is still there," she says. "Now, instead of repressing dissidents, the poor and blacks are repressed in the name of national security."

6th Feminist Encuentro for Latin America and the Caribbean

The 6th Feminist Encuentro (Gathering) for Latin American and Caribbean women took place in Costa del Sol, El Salvador, from October 30 to November 5, last year. Approximately 1,100 women attended the conference.

Country Profiles


Brazil is the fifth largest country in the world. Under the military government (1964-1985), Brazil also accumulated the largest foreign debt in the world--US $121 billion. A constitutional process began in 1986, culminating in a new Constitution in 1988. Fernando Collor de Mello was elected President in 1990, the first directly-elected president since 1960.

Economy: Gross National Product per capita is $2,540 (to compare, GNP per capita in the US is $20,910). High inflation, with almost half the population living below the poverty line.

Feminism and the Environment in Brazil

by Jacqueline Pitanguy and Selene Herculano

Brazil has paid a high price for the development policies that transformed it, within four decades, from one of Latin America's poorest coffee-growing countries into one of the world's ten largest economies. Brazil today is plagued by massive debt, galloping inflation, stagnant economic growth and widening disparity between the rich and the poor. For example, the richest 20 percent of the population earn over 65 percent of the national income while the poorest 20 percent earn less than 3 percent.

Facts at a Glance

Brazilian women won the right to vote in 1932. Today, women represent 5 percent of the House of Deputies and .24 percent of the Senate.

Some 20 percent of Brazil's 35 million families are now headed by women. Most are poor and live with inadequate sanitation: over 90 percent of children under a year old in the Northeast live in homes with inadequate sewage systems.

Women in Brazil earn, on the average, 52 percent of what men do.

Living on the Streets

"My family's got a house and a bit of land, but I've been living on the streets since I was seven, the year after my mother died. I worked as a servant in a family house, but then a friend told me to come to the city.

"I got by in the city, picking up men, though I had to put up with them hitting me. What really makes me angry is the way that these machos beat you up all the time. It makes you want to kill them, that's why I don't live with a guy. I just sell my body to them from time to time." Katia

Rapes in Mexico

At 4:30 pm on June 4th, a group of approximately 30 soldiers of the Mexican Federal Army (MFA) raped three young Tseltal

indigenous women from Santa Rosita Sibaquil (in the municipality of Altamirano). The rapes took place at a military roadblock outside of Altamirano, where the soldiers were on duty.

The young women had sold their farm produce in the town of

Altamirano and were returning with their mother when they

Letter from South Africa

Adele Kirsten, Training Co-ordinator with the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, has been a WRI supporter for many years. She attended the WRI women's gatherings in Glencree, Ireland and in Bangkok, Thailand. The following is an excerpt from a letter she recently wrote from her homeland, South Africa:

Political Asylum for Women

In June of last year, Canada granted political refugee status to an Ecuadoran women who had escaped ten years of domestic violence, including marital rape. Her husband had threatened to kill her and local police had refused protection. The Canadian Immigration and Refugee Board ruled that this constituted persecution if she returned to her home country. The board cited Canada's new immigration guidelines--the first in the world that grant asylum to women facing gender violence.

Women as Victims of Structural Violence

by Shelley Anderson

"I want to avert the end through work. Through work by healthy men. Thanks to that the ghetto exists...The Germans wouldn't keep a ghetto for women and children for very long: they won't give them food for one extra day."

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