Government cuts spending on fighting violence against women

Damares Alves's department has been given the lowest budget for combatting violence against women in 7 years. Photo: Anderson Riedel/PR
Human Rights Minister Damares Alves shows a Wonder Woman face mask to reporters. Photo: Anderson Riedel/PR

While one women was raped every 10 minutes in Brazil last year, and another was killed every seven hours, the budget destined to combat violence against women in 2022 was the lowest since at least 2015. The area is led by Women, Family and Human Rights Minister Damares Alves.

A survey by the Institute for Socioeconomic Studies (Inesc) pointed out that the total funding planned for 2022 is BRL 43.2 million (USD 8.54 million), down from BRL 61.4 million, BRL 132.5 million, and BRL 71.9 million in previous years. By comparison, in 2014, the ministry had a whopping BRL 273.3 million to spend.

One of the ministry’s main programs to tackle violence against women, Casa da Mulher Brasileira, has been left “neglected” during Ms. Alves’s time in charge. The program was set up during Dilma Rousseff’s government, offering integrated care to women who had been victims of violence. Casa da Mulher Brasileira had authorization to spend up to BRL 21.8 million last year — but only spent BRL 1 million.

“Analyzing the financial execution of policies for women in the Bolsonaro government so far, the impression is that there is a prioritization of ideological and moralist agendas strengthened in the figure of Damares Alves and her princess delusions, in addition to the political use of victims of sexual violence and other insults, such as the attempt to finance the anti-vaccination agenda,” criticized Carmela Zigoni, spokesperson for Inesc.

In response to newspaper O Globo, the Women, Family and Human Rights Ministry said that the policies to combat violence against women are found throughout the government and not just in Ms. Alves’s department, but did not go into any further detail.

Meanwhile, during an event on Tuesday morning, Damares Alves and First Lady Michelle Bolsonaro praised the government’s measures towards women. “It’s the pinkest government in the world,” said Ms. Alves.

Recently, the 2022 SDG Gender Index survey showed that Brazil ranks 78th in the world in terms of empowerment of women and girls across metrics such as health, education, and workplace rights. The country has stagnated with “no progress” since 2015, and expenditures that benefit women are down by 58 percent since 2016.