Although the votes at the opening of the National Congress were favorable to the Lula government, with the confirmation of the presidencies of Arthur Lira (PP-AL) in the Chamber and Rodrigo Pacheco (PSD – MG) in the Senate, Brazilians elected federal deputies and senators significantly conservatives on issues such as sexual and reproductive rights, violence against women, conception of family, position on domestic responsibilities, religion and anti-gender positions.
This finding is from a study commissioned by the Centro Feminista de Estudos e Assessoria (Cfemea), released in January of this year, which individually analyzed the positioning of federal deputies and senators elected in 2022, on social networks in relation to issues on the feminist agenda.
The profiles on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and the official website were analyzed during the official election campaign period in the 1st and 2nd shifts of 2022, between August 16th and October 30th.
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Jolúzia Batista, member of Cfemea and Articulação de Mulheres Brasileiras (AMB), states that “the survey data reveal that there is a deepening of conservatism, especially if one analyzes the rise of the PL. In the Senate, in general, there are 20 senators who arrive elected due to Bolsonarism”.
In the Chamber, the Liberal Party, the acronym of former President Jair Bolsonaro, forms the largest group, with 99 elected deputies. In the Senate, the PL is also the largest party with 14 senators, followed by the PSD, with 11; MDB and União Brasil, with 10 each; and by PT, with 9.
“There was a deepening from the increase in deputies and elected senators linked to the conservative agenda in general. We see this assault that is planned in the Senate, which was a place where we even bet on regimental strategies in the face of some of some unsolved attacks in the Chamber. But the Senate has now become an arena,” says Batista.
In this sense, “the study confirms a trend that we have observed in the last two or three legislatures, which is the organization of a stronger, more systematic attack and also a better performance of some parliamentarians identified with this agenda”.
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The researcher also claims that the data show that there is little understanding by parliamentarians about machismo as a structural part of violence against women.
In publications on their social networks, deputies rarely mentioned machismo as a structural problem of gender violence. Only 59 deputies mentioned machismo as a structural aspect related to domestic violence.
In the Senate, only 6 senators (7.41%) recognize this relationship. Along the same lines, 12 senators (14.81%) also potentially associate sexism with gender violence, from this perspective.
“There is little understanding in the Brazilian parliament of the origins of gender-based violence or how to address it. Because it does not have a slightly deeper elaboration on these matters, it bets on the perspective of formulating punitivist projects”, such as the release of weapons to protect women. “It is a very shallow read, without content.”
Overall, the study shows a “portrait of Congress” that “imposes great challenges for us over these four years”, informs an excerpt from the report produced under the coordination of Denise Mantovani, PhD in Political Science with a postdoctoral degree in intersectional feminist studies by the University of Brasília (UnB) and researcher in gender, media and politics.
Chamber of Deputies
In the Chamber of Deputies, 323 parliamentarians linked religious elements to the electoral campaign, a total of 63% of the 513 seats. Only 37% of deputies did not place their candidacy in a religious context.
Of the 323 deputies who expressed religious positions, 46% are Catholics and 24.6% declared themselves to be evangelicals, the majority being linked to Pentecostal or Neo-Pentecostal denominations. Among Catholics, there is a group with extremist positions and against gender equality.
When it comes to the secular state, 17.35% of elected deputies are against the idea that religion and politics cannot mix. The study understood, in this sense, that 89 deputies can take religious issues into account when voting on laws. Only 7% of deputies agree with the separation between religion and politics.
When it comes to family, only 9.36% are in favor of the notion that the family is a plural unit, while 16% made publications associated with the conservative notion. “The position contrary to the family as a plural unit articulates the extremist right-wing and neoconservative parliamentarians, where the “traditional family” is the most used expression to present their candidacies”, informs the study.
About 15% of deputies are or could potentially be in favor of the idea that women should be responsible for taking care of the house, without division of tasks, according to publications made on social networks.
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One aspect that brings deputies closer to opposing positions is the Maria da Penha Law and the fight against domestic violence. The legislation has the support of 130 elected deputies (25.34% of the 513) and another 128 elected (25%). This means that a little more than the majority can take these aspects into account when voting on bills.
Abortion, a frequently controversial subject, was avoided by more than half of the deputies: 56.73% (291 deputies) did not mention the subject. Of the other half, who mentioned the subject, the majority was against any type of regulation of abortion (125 parliamentarians or 24.37%). Another 59 deputies did not express themselves directly, but their publications indicate that they are also possibly against it, adding up to 184 deputies (36% of the 513 elected). Only 16 deputies (3.12%) declared themselves in favor of some type of abortion regulation.
In the Federal Senate, the proportions are similar to those found in the Chamber of Deputies. About 56% of the 81 senators (45 parliamentarians) declared a link to some religion. Of these, 16 are Catholic and 11 are Evangelical. The other 36 senators (44%) did not address religious aspects in their profiles on networks.
About 28% of senators consider the idea that religion and politics should not mix to be wrong. While 35.8% potentially also consider the idea erroneous. The others did not make any kind of statement about the secularity of the state.
With regard to the issue of the family, only 8 senators have spoken out in favor of a plural family. Another eight parliamentarians are in favor of the conservative view, formed by a man and a woman. Adding the contrary group to the potentially contrary ones, there are 34.57% of the senators with a refractory perspective to advances in this field.
Regarding the Maria da Penha Law and the fight against domestic violence, 38 senators (46.91%) were in favor and 14 senators (17.28%) with potentially favorable positions, summing up the majority of parliamentarians: 64% of the 81 senators.
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As for the issue of abortion, the survey did not find any position favorable to the right to terminate a pregnancy among senators in their networks. Only four parliamentarians potentially find themselves in this position. Of the 81 senators, 22% (18 senators) are explicitly against abortion and 14 senators are potentially against it.
The study also divided parliamentarians into groups according to their ideological position. In total, there are five divisions: an arms group more linked to the defense of the release of weapons for the protection of women; a religious group against abortion; a group with agendas more connected to the notion of “traditional family”; a feminist and anti-racist group that advocates women’s rights; and a conservative group, but one that supports some feminist guidelines, especially those related to combating violence against women.
Editing: Rodrigo Durão Coelho
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