Brazil | Demonstrations against a text aiming to criminalize abortion resulting from rape

(Rio de Janeiro) Thousands of people demonstrated Thursday in several cities in Brazil against a text examined in Congress which plans to criminalize abortion and apply penalties of up to 20 years in prison, even when pregnancy results of a rape.


Published at 12:04 a.m.

“Being a girl is not being a mother,” chanted demonstrators in Rio de Janeiro (East), who also marched in Sao Paulo (East), Brasilia (center) and Florianopolis (South-East), according to images broadcast on social networks and in the media.

The deputies “defend the right of the fetus, but do not defend the right of a girl to refuse to carry a pregnancy resulting from rape,” criticized Vivian Nigri who came to swell the ranks of the demonstration in Rio de Janeiro.

In Brazil, abortion is only authorized in cases of rape, risk to the mother or brain abnormality of the fetus. Brazilian legislation also does not provide for any limitation period when the pregnancy results from rape. Apart from these exceptions, abortion is punishable by a prison sentence of up to four years in prison.

PHOTO AMANDA PEROBELLI, REUTERS

The text, currently being examined in the Chamber of Deputies, is defended by evangelical deputies. It plans to qualify as “simple homicide” any abortion performed after 22 weeks of pregnancy, even when it results from rape.

It also plans to punish abortion with a prison sentence of six to twenty years when it is performed after 22 weeks of pregnancy. This is double the sentence faced by a rapist in Brazil.

Under pressure from conservative deputies, the text was sent directly to the Chamber of Deputies on Wednesday, without having been debated in committee, triggering concern from the progressive camp.

No date has yet been set for the vote on this text by Brazilian deputies.

The spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Elizabeth Throssell, expressed her concern about the modalities of examination of the text.

“We fear that this emergency procedure will avoid discussion of the project in parliamentary committees. However, it is a necessary step to understand its implications and its compliance with international standards concerning human rights,” she told the press in Geneva on Friday.

If adopted by the Brazilian Congress, the text will particularly affect female victims of rape who often have difficulty speaking or only detect signs of pregnancy late.

At the end of May, the Brazilian Congress circumvented a veto by left-wing President Lula and adopted an article prohibiting the State from financing activities linked to abortion or even sexual reassignment surgery on minors.

In Brazil, a girl under the age of 13 is raped every 15 minutes, according to official statistics. Around 20,000 girls under the age of 14 become mothers every year in the country.

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