Abused wives find help by going to ‘Dona Carmen’

Go Lean Commentary

AbuseThe issue in the below news article is related more to human rights, than to feminism. This story is being brought into focus in a consideration of the book Go Lean … Caribbean. The book serves as a roadmap for the introduction and implementation of the Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU), for the economic optimization in the region.

How does this story relate?

The roadmap posits that the economy of the Caribbean is inextricably linked to the security of the Caribbean. While the security scope of the CU is mostly focused on the “bad actors” that might emerge to exploit the new Caribbean economic engines and successes, the book is not quiet on what may be considered traditional crime-and-punishment issues. While the subject of domestic violence falls on the member-state side of the separation-of-powers divide, the CU will entail a jurisdiction of monitoring and metering (ratings, rankings, service levels, etc) local governments and their delivery of the Social Contract. For this reason, there is a 3rd focus of the CU prime directive, to optimize the region’s governing engines.

An underlying mission of the CU is to dissuade further human flight and incentivize repatriation of the far-flung Diaspora. Many who had fled previously obtained refugee status due to the abuse and persecution from domestic perpetrators. These issues must be addressed and targeted for solutions and reconciliations.

In fact, the foregoing article refers to the new enforcements introduced in Brazil in a 2006 law. That’s was just 8 years ago. (A similar Domestic Violence law was enacted in the Bahamas in 2008). A survey of other Latin American countries unveils even more new laws recently enacted in the Caribbean, Central and South America. Change has finally come.

Change has come to the Caribbean, but as the roadmap depicts, the problem of domestic violence (a human rights abuse) had persisted long before, and is thusly rooted in a community ethos. An ethos that must be uprooted and replaced with a new, progressive spirit, even within the public service entities, whose job it is to “serve & protect”. This is the new lean Caribbean!

This is reflected in the foregoing article with the principal character Dona Carmen, which is not even her real name, but more of an elevated title for her respected role in the community.

Title: Abused wives find help by going to ‘Dona Carmen’
By: Dom Phillips

CAMPINAS, Brazil — With her husband out of earshot, Queze Vicente told the story of the night he came at her with two knives in his hand.

“He was drinking,” she said outside their one-room shack in a roadside slum near an airport here. “We fought. And I had to go to Dona Carmen.”

Everyone in their community knows who Dona Carmen is and her method for getting abusive husbands in line. They call it “the discipline,” and it includes a sex strike.

For 15 days, husbands who hit their wives are also banned from drinking in the local bar and playing soccer on the local field. And any man who helps an offender violate the rules is also subject to the sex strike.

Abused by her husband and saddened by the abuse all around her, Dona Carmen talked 12 local women into adopting the punishment routine. Two years later, the women and most of the men say it works.

“Everyone thinks it is good,” said Vicente’s husband, Renato. “There are no more fights.”

The abuse in this community, a corner of the slum called Menino Chorão, or Crybaby Boy, was not unlike what many Brazilian women experience. In a survey conducted by the Patrícia Galvão Institute, which works on women’s rights and communication issues, 54 percent of Brazilians said they knew a woman who had been attacked by a partner and 70 percent said they believed Brazilian women suffered more violence at home than in public spaces.

But change is slowly coming to this most macho of societies as activists such as Dona Carmen try to help women find new ways to combat domestic abuse.

“This is a theme that permeates the whole of society,” said Julio Neto, a professor at Campinas State University whose department recently sponsored a forum at which Dona Carmen spoke. “Every Brazilian knows cases of violence against women.”

Neto said the women in the group were forced to act because the state was not protecting them. “If they call the police, the police don’t go.” He said he did not condone cases in which some women had beaten up male offenders but that he supported “the discipline.”

“It is very original. I think in this sense, it is marvelous,” he said.

Dona Carmen, whose real name is Maria de Sousa, commands respect within her group: the fact that she is addressed as “Dona” — roughly equivalent to “madame” — is evidence of that.

Like most of her neighbors, she is from Brazil’s poorer, more traditional northeast. For 13 years, she was married to a man who beat her persistently. One attack when she was five months pregnant caused her to miscarry twins. “My whole body had purple bruises from the beating he gave me,” she said.

She arrived in the southeastern city of Campinas from her native Fortaleza eight years ago when a woman she had met tricked her with a promise of work and a place to live. As a result, she said, she spent 40 days in a brothel but escaped and did not have to work as a prostitute.

“I was desperate to get a job,” said de Sousa, who has four children and now works in a kitchen at an advertising agency.

‘Still a lot to do’

Before Brazil introduced a domestic violence law in 2006, some offenders were able to get off with fines or even by donating food baskets.

The law is named for Maria da Penha, a biochemist whose husband shot her while she was asleep in 1983, leaving her paraplegic, and then tried to electrocute her. After almost two decades of legal maneuvering, he was finally jailed in 2002 and served 16 months in closed prison and three more years in semi-open prison.

Da Penha fought hard for his imprisonment and campaigned for the law. “I was revolted with the sexism of the Brazilian judiciary,” she said, talking by phone from Fortaleza, where she runs an educational institute.

The law set up special courts and police departments to deal with crimes against women, and stricter punishments. A special hotline was also set up to deal with cases of domestic abuse.

Da Penha, 67, said there has been major progress, but that these resources are still lacking in smaller towns and cities.

“Women who are victims of violence are slowly losing the shame they had to talk about this,” she said. “Sexual equality is being conquered little by little, but there is still a lot to do.”

Despite the tougher punishments for offenders, rates of violence against women remain high. In the first six months of 2013 alone, the hotline received 306,201 calls, of which 12.3 percent were reports of violence

Between 2009 and 2011, 16,900 women were murdered in Brazil because of “gender conflict” — a rate of 5.8 per 100,000 women, according to government statistics. In the United States in 2011, that rate was 1.17 per 100,000, according to the Violence Policy Center, based in Washington.

Brazilian women suffer inequality in other areas as well. In the World Economic Forum’s 2013 Global Gender Gap report, Brazil placed 62nd in a list of 136 countries. In terms of wage equality, it came in 117th.

Lieli Loures, 35, an activist in São Paulo, said the Maria da Penha law was a watershed moment for Brazil, and that a grass-roots feminist movement is growing. “I perceive a change,” she said. “Feminism is only beginning to be known.”

Ongoing debate
In Crybaby Boy, the debate continued in the front yard of the small brick house where Maria Santos, 34 — one of women in Dona Carmen’s group — lives with her husband, Adelmo, 31.

“We joke that the women are in charge here,” she said.

“We have to respect the rights of women,” he said. “But in the same way, we have to respect the rights of men.”

Then he lowered his voice to a whisper: “The women here want to be the man. They can’t.”

But Geraldo da Cruz, 62, said most men back the scheme. “Everything organized is better, right? Important.”

Source: Washington Post – Online News Source – April 25, 2014 –http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/in-the-corner-of-a-brazilian-slum-abused-wives-find-help-by-going-to-dona-carmen/2014/04/25/afbb7d1a-c68d-11e3-8b9a-8e0977a24aeb_story.html

The Go Lean roadmap posits that every woman has a right to a violence-free existence, in the family and in society; it is reprehensible that in so many Caribbean/Latin countries women are still viewed as lesser beings that can be abused at the whim of men, as was evident in the foregoing news article. This type of thinking is still prevalent; not just in Brazil; (notice this related Bahamas story)

What should be done to mitigate these bad practices? How does the Go Lean roadmap address this issue?

There are strategic, tactical and operational advocacies presented in the Go Lean roadmap so as to ensure victims are protected and perpetrators are held accountable for their actions:

• The CU will therefore work with governmental and non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) to fulfill their charters to aid victims and legislate for changes.

• The CU will also fund the full vertical eco-system so that law enforcement (and/or social work) agencies can institute Special Victims Units and counseling services. The roadmap posits that even one person, an advocate, can make a difference (Page 122) in forging change in society.

• Facilitate community messaging to instill/persuade an enlightened value system for men and women; helping men curb aggressive behavior (like anger management training) and empowering women to live successful lives and seek recourse against abusers if needed.

• Oversee the internal affairs/military justice of security agencies to ensure the integrity of the justice institutions. (Deficiency in this area is a Failed–State Indicator).

While the CU does not have sovereignty (a deputized agency only), it can still provide support services to ensure compliance. In addition to monitoring and metering, the CU can also provide ratings, funding, training, intelligence gathering, and cross border (fugitive) law enforcement.

The solutions to effect change in the region are detailed in this book Go Lean … Caribbean as community ethos, strategies, tactics, implementations and advocates; as follows:

Community Ethos – Privacy –vs- Public Protection Page 23
Community Ethos – Whistleblower Protection Page 23
Community Ethos – Witness Security Page 23
Community Ethos – Anti Bullying & Mitigations Page 23
Community Ethos – Light Up the Dark Places Page 23
Community Ethos – Minority Equalizations Page 24
Community Ethos – Reconciliations Page 34
Strategy – Rule of Law –vs- Vigilantism Page 49
Separation of Powers – CariPol Page 77
Implementation – Reason to Repatriate Page 118
Ways to Improve Failed-State Indices Page 134
Ways to Better Manage the Social Contract Page 170
Ways to Impact Justice Page 177
Ways to Remediate and Mitigate Crime Page 178
Ways to Improve Gun Control Page 179
Ways to Improve Intelligence Gathering Page 182
Ways to Improve Communications Page 186
Ways to Impact the Prison Industrial Complex Page 211
Ways to Impact Foundations Page 219
Ways to Protect Human Rights Page 220
Ways to Empower Women Page 226
Ways to Impact Youth Page 227
Ways to Impact Persons with Disabilities Page 228

The goal is to make the Caribbean a better place to live work and play; with justice for all, regardless of gender. This is not politics; not feminism versus traditional family values. This is just right!

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