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The second panel of the first day of the 4th International Action of the World March of Women that took place from September 26-28 in Santana do Livramento (Brazil) and Rivera (Uruguay) border cities addressed the gender violence against women from the experience and perspective of the participants of the three countries involved in the action. The space titled "Feminism for a world free from machismo, violence and lesbophobia" exposed the feminicides taking place in these countries, making reference to the laws and feminist struggles to fight against them. The space also dealt with the conservative advance in the Brazilian politics and State.
Naiara Malavolta, of the World March of Women of Rio Grande do Sul and the Liga Brasileira de Lesbicas (LBL) focused her presentation on denouncing fundamentalism as a "well organized, historically structured" movement and not as isolated attitudes by political or religious actors.
Malavolta highlighted that the attempt to build a secular State in Brazil is recent, and it goes against a construction that can be dated back to the origins of the country itself: "Brazil was born as a Catholic State. From the beginning we have the State and religion as a combined thing. The division is very recent", she said with reference to the separation between the State and the Catholic Church that took place for the first time with the Republican Constitution of 1891.
Malavolta believes that fundamentalism occurs at several levels: political, social, economic and religious. "All these should be taken into account when speaking of sexual and reproductive rights in the context of a secular State". When describing economic fundamentalism, she said that capitalism is the example par excellence of this: "The market as a power that cannot be questioned. And this influences the way we live sexual and reproductive rights".
In the last part of her presentation, the feminist activist described the history of religious fundamentalism in Brazilian politics, identifying the year 1986 as the starting date of its direct incidence, when the National Constitution of 1988 was under discussion. Currently the Evangelist Parliamentary Front is one of the main forces of Parliament in Brazil and it has been making quite conservative legislative proposals, such as the recently passed definition of "family", which considers it exclusively as the "union between man and woman".
Against patriarchal imperialism: a struggle for the senses
Sabrina, of the organization Pañuelos en Rebeldia and Socorristas en Red of Argentina, pointed out that in regulatory terms "there are wonderful laws" to fight against violence against women, but these are not being enforced, she said especially about the integral protection law to prevent, punish and eradicate violence against women, passed in 2009.
In order to fight against "machista" violence, which results in a feminicide every 30 hours in the country, Sabrina said it was key to continue strengthening feminist-political capacity building, "to think of feminism from the popular sectors" and "to articulate the fight against capitalism with the fight against patriarchy". "We believe that this is without a question a struggle of the senses", she concluded.
In Uruguay, according to official figures, 28 women were murdered in 2014, and this year "30 women have already been murdered by "machista" violence"", as Maria, of the Uruguayan organization Alerta Feminista shared with the participants.
When speaking about the emergence and operation of this movement, Maria explained that this is a "measure taken by Uruguayan women to denounce and fight the ultimate consequence of "machista" violence: feminicides".
One of the main issues denounced by the Uruguayan feminist is the "justification" of murders by powerful sectors of the country.
The feminicide of Yamila, "a young woman from a very poor neighborhood" was the trigger of the feminist warnings: "We are speaking of a paradigmatic feminicide, because the legal system and the communication media don´t think that this woman deserved justice, or rights. This woman is embedded in a series of oppressions that for them made her deserve this violence".
As a response to this context, the feminist activist also highlighted the value of resistance and the organization of women, concluding the following: "While violent "machos" exist, feminists will continue being organized!".
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