On Monday (11), federal deputy Célia Xakriabá (Socialism and Freedom Party, Minas Gerais state) filed a bill with the Chamber of Deputies seeking to combat violence against Indigenous women. The text, already called bill (PL, in Portuguese) 4381/2023, establishes procedures to be adopted by police units and other bodies of the public security system to assist female Indigenous victims. The proposal targets all types of violence, such as physical, psychological, sexual, verbal, property, moral and political abuse.
The bill provides for specialized support, including everything from assistance at police stations to procedural guidance in cases where a restraining order is asked. It also creates the so-called “Multidisciplinary Support Network”, which may include “members of civil society, people’s lawyers, psychologists, anthropologists, social workers and the like”.
The idea is to promote an association between the network and public authorities through an agreement of technical cooperation so that assistance to victims is properly monitored. This monitoring may include emergency procedures, health care, as well as public safety, justice and social assistance measures.
“The bill aims to support all Indigenous women who put their bodies, minds and hearts into protecting their own lives and caring for the environment. We understand that, in addition to the violence listed by the Maria da Penha Law, Indigenous women are still prone to being victims of political violence, because they protect land and Mother Earth. Therefore, they often need to fight against sexism embedded within communities so that their peoples resist and survive”, writes Xakriabá in the bill’s text.
The bill also provides for the promotion of actions such as conversation circles, debates and lectures on the concept of violence against Indigenous women. The text determines the presence of interpreters within communities to disseminate this kind of information among women. “We want to guarantee, for instance, the presence of more than one interpreter in cases of violence, as it is possible that the interpreter appointed to a case may be a relative/friend of the aggressor and puts into question the victim’s word”, argues the federal deputy.
The bill creates the so-called “Indigenous Women’s Service Agenda” and an annual calendar of events related to the topic, with plans to carry out joint assistance efforts. The bill does not mention specific dates for these actions. The text also provides for the availability of a national telephone service specially designed to receive and forward reports of violence against Indigenous women in Brazil. The service must be connected to specialized police stations and the Public Prosecutor’s Office, in order to make it easier to start legal proceedings.
“It will not compete with the Maria da Penha Law. We (Indigenous women) continue to die and be raped inside and outside our territories. Our bodies demand respect and need to be seen amid this death process. We do not want other girls and women to go through this”, says Braulina Baniwa, from the National Articulation of Indigenous Women, Warriors of Ancestralities (Anmiga, in Portuguese).
Indigenous leader Irê, from the Jenipapo-canindé people in Ceará, draws attention to the fact that violence against women in traditional communities is a phenomenon directly related to the cultural influence of non-Indigenous populations on these territories, a direct consequence of European colonization.
“For us, gender-based violence within Indigenous lands is a colonizer thing. Some people still believe in (the idea) that treating badly a woman is cultural, and it is not. We are here to demystify it and say that this is not culture. Our ancient peoples did not teach us to be violent, to practice the type of violence that Indigenous women face in their territories.”
The bill was announced by Célia Xakriabá in the presence of the Minister of Indigenous Peoples, Sônia Guajajara, and other women who were at the Chamber of Deputies this Monday, 11, to attend the opening ceremony of the 3rd Indigenous Women March – Women-Biome Defending Biodiversity through Ancestral Roots. In total, 500 members of traditional communities gathered at the Chamber of Deputies for a solemn session to pay homage to the march. The bill was mentioned as an initiative on the political agenda of participants in the event.
Edited by: Nadini Lopes and Thalita Pires