The Primate of the Igreja Episcopal Anglicana do Brasil (IEAB) – the Anglican Episcopal Church in Brazil – Francisco de Assis da Silva, has called on men and women in the Church to work together in the fight for gender equality. Bishop Francisco, who leads the Diocese of South-Western Brazil in addition to his role as Primate of the Province, said in an open letter that “We live in a time of setbacks sponsored by those who hold power in the Brazilian state. Violence against women has widened. The exclusion of social rights has become systematic against the most vulnerable segments of society and, of course, women are the biggest victims.”
He said that the National Congress, Brazil’s Parliament, had pushed issues of women’s interests to the background, while pursuing “conservative stances”, including measures to repeal or diminish the Disarmament Statute, which limits the ownership of guns and ammunition. “It is good to remember that if this easing happens the statistics of femicide will only tend to increase,” he said.
Statistics published today by local news website G1 show that violence against women in the country continues to rise, with killings of women rising by 6.5 per cent in 2017 in comparison with 2016. The website highlights figures showing that of the 126 women killed in a single week six months ago, only one resulted in a trial.
Separately, the Brazilian Public Security Forum (BPSF) released figures showing that women were murdered at a rate of 4.3 per 100,000 in Brazil last year. And that almost a quarter of the violent deaths of women that occurred in Brazil last year – 946 out of 4,473 – were caused by femicide: the gender-motivated killing of women. Brazil’s former President, Dilma Rousseff, pushed through a law in 2015 that introduced tougher penalties for people convicted of femicide. Despite this, there has been an increase in the number of cases, the BPSF reported.
“We have much to explore on this journey to gender equality,” Bishop Francisco said. “We must continue fighting and this fight is for all people of good will. Men and women are called to commit to a new look, a new way and to build another possible world.
“This new look comes from a liberating hermeneutics, and from the eyes of people who know the oppression.
“Thus, we challenge our dioceses, parishes and missions to support or make visible actions in favour of the rights of our women, whether in the liturgical spaces or in other spaces of Brazilian society.
“As episcopal people, let us join efforts to make the nuclei of the Union of Episcopal Women of Anglican Brazil (UMEAB) the beacons of hope and presence of the Kingdom of God in their neighbourhoods, in their regions and in their cities, every day of the year.
“We are people called to renew our understanding and our commitment to the Gospel that rises against all forms of discrimination.”
Summarising his message, he quoted the Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Youzafzai, who said: “I raise my voice not to scream but to make sure that all people who have no voice are heard. We cannot have justice while half of us are silenced.”
In his letter, Bishop Francisco reference the forthcoming 62nd meeting of the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women, to which a number of representatives from the Anglican Communion, Mothers’ Union and the US-based Episcopal Church will attend as accredited observers, and said: “the sad note this year is that our Province will not be represented for the first time in many years.” He revealed that his chosen representative for the IEAB, the Revd Elineide Ferreira, had been twice denied a visa to attend – something he blamed on “the xenophobic and sexist prejudice of the Trump government.”