University of São Paulo: In the Amazon, mobilization of indigenous women against violence extends to actions to face the pandemic

NoIn the Amazon, indigenous women from the city of São Gabriel da Cachoeira organized themselves as a response to violence, a mobilization that extended to face the coronavirus pandemic from 2020. At that moment, the campaign Rio Negro, Nós Cuidamos!!! , which collects and distributes food, masks, hygiene products, fuel, agricultural and fishing tools to indigenous communities on the banks of the Rio Negro, in order to prevent them from moving to the city and contracting the disease. This and other actions by the women of São Gabriel are reported in a survey by the Faculty of Public Health (FSP) at USP, which analyzes three cases of femicide of indigenous women and the resistance present in the search for ways to prevent domestic, criminal and domestic violence. the harassment.

“In the research, I analyze the practical forms that are consolidated in a critical context of violence and threats to indigenous women in the city of São Gabriel da Cachoeira, and how these women respond, cross and constitute themselves in this context”, says the author of the work, Dulce Meire Mendes Morais, technical advisor on Gender for the Rio Negro Program of the Instituto Socioambiental (ISA). “Through the analysis of the official documents produced on the cases of femicide and the monitoring of the mobilizations in the city, it was possible to think about and stitch the research together.”

The study Of documents, cacti and viruses: sexual violence, indigenous women and the State in São Gabriel da Cachoeira was carried out in the city of São Gabriel da Cachoeira, located in the Alto Rio Negro region, in the northwestern Brazilian Amazon, and covered issues of violence domestic, criminal (femicide) and harassment.

Dulce Meire Mendes Morais – Photo: Reproduction
Dulce Meire Mendes Morais – Photo: Reproduction
“São Gabriel da Cachoeira is the municipality with the largest indigenous population in the country. There are 23 peoples, such as Piratapuya, Tukano, Tuyuka, Baniwa, Baré, Dâw, among others, comprising more than a dozen languages ​​distributed in four language families: Aruak, Eastern Tukano, Naduhup and Yanomami”, he describes. “To this set of languages ​​originating in the region, there is also Nheengatu, Baniwa and Tukano, co-official languages ​​of the municipality, in addition to Portuguese and Spanish.”

In 2018, conversation circles began to take place in the city to better understand the theme of violence, in a collaborative work between the FSP, ISA, the Department of Indigenous Women of Rio Negro ( Dmirn) of the Federation of Indigenous Organizations of Rio Negro (Foirn ) and the Observatory of Gender Violence in the Amazon (Ovgam). “In these conversations, as well as in fieldwork, several reports by young people about the fear of rape were observed and many reported their own stories or those of friends, relatives and acquaintances who have already been through this type of situation, in addition to harassment in public spaces and also inside their homes”, says the researcher. The women organized and claimed a female delegate, getting delegate Grace Jardim to work in the city, starting in January 2019.

“Before going to São Gabriel for the first time, I had only one narrative that I was told about two women who had been murdered and sexually assaulted. This was the image I had when I started my work, motionless, of two dead women. However, I could see that it is possible to color and give movement to this image”, she reports. “I observed, throughout the field work, women organized and articulated within the indigenous movement. One of the most significant moments regarding such articulations was my experience in the construction of a public act held on March 8, 2020, International Women’s Day.”

Shared Dissatisfaction
Dulce says that the women gathered on the edge of the city’s beach to show a shared dissatisfaction with the violence against them and, also, the little chance of resolution they find in these violent situations and contexts. “Although it was the preparation of an act against the violence suffered by women, there was no lack of space for colors, beauty, smiles, companionship and friendship”, she observes. “It seems to me that, in addition to the ability to involve people in their struggle, they share the making of the world to build a place where all lives are liveable. So, talking about violence with these women is also talking about struggle, confrontation and resistance.”

Photo: Personal archive/Dulce Meire Mendes Morais
According to the researcher, the movement of indigenous women in the city gained local and national visibility, not only with issues related to violence but also those related to the covid-19 pandemic. “Due to the critical situation in which the state of Amazonas found itself, fieldwork in São Gabriel was changed and then interrupted in May 2020,” she points out. “In June, we prepared the booklet Domestic Violence and Sexual Violence in times of a pandemic. Support networks and complaints: you are not alone , which demanded a mobilization for distribution and conversations in the indigenous languages ​​of the region about the material produced. The city’s pandemic process, especially the coping actions through the Rio Negro, Nós Cuidamos!, created and led by the coordinators of Dmirn, became central to my research, based on dialogues via video calls and monitoring the work of women via WhatsApp and in person.”

According to Dulce, the campaign aimed to collect and distribute food, masks, hygiene products, fuel, agricultural and fishing tools to help families from Rio Negro not travel to the city in search of these products, at the risk of contracting the disease and take it to indigenous communities. “The campaign also sought to meet the needs of the Rio Negro Indigenous Communicators Network, the Wayuri Network, Foirn’s regional radio and digital communication and information system, which played a key role in disseminating information about the coronavirus in indigenous communities,” he points out. . “I understand that the campaign is currently in the process of being re-elaborated. Many situations of vulnerability plague the population of Rio Negro, such as floods,

The research was guided by Professor José Miguel Olivar, from FSP, coordinator of the Gender and Violence Against Indigenous Women project in the City of São Gabriel da Cachoeira. , an initiative that had the collaboration of Juliana Radler and Carla Dias, from ISA, Elizângela Costa, Janete Alves, Maria do Rosário, Larissa Duarte and Glória Rabelo, former and current coordinators of Dmirn, and the teacher and coordinator of the Observatory of Gender Violence in Amazonas from the Federal University of Amazonas (Ufam), Flávia Melo. “The partnership with Grace Jardim, who worked as a delegate for the Interactive Police of São Gabriel da Cachoeira, and with the city’s Epidemiological Surveillance through the Municipal Health Department was also extremely important”, says Dulce. “In addition to institutions, the contribution of indigenous women from São Gabriel was fundamental for the development of the research.”