A ten-year-old was raped in Brazil. Religious extremists oppose abortion – with the support of the government.
There was loud prayer, wrestling and, in the end, even attempts to storm the clinic. Catholic groups, evangelical pastors and right-wing politicians called for a protest in the Brazilian city of Recife on Sunday. The protesters wanted to prevent a ten-year-old girl who became pregnant after being raped from having an abortion. The case sparked a debate about the growing influence of religious groups.
Brazil has strict abortion laws. An abortion may only be carried out if the mother’s life is at risk, the fetus is not viable – or after it has been raped. Christian groups have been fighting for years to tighten the laws even further – and since right-wing Jair Bolsonaro took office, they have received support from the very top.
Family Minister Damares Alves is not only an evangelical pastor, but also one of the most well-known anti-abortion activists in the country. In the latest debate, the minister gave the go-ahead for a real witch hunt when she criticized the judiciary’s decision on Facebook to allow abortion.
Since the victim is a child, the case should not actually be discussed. But that didn’t bother right-wing influencer and Bolsonaro supporter Sara Winter, to position herself clearly. The fundamentalist ex-feminist called on her supporters to protest and even published the girl’s real name and address.
The 10-year-old girl, who lives with her grandmother in Espíritio Santo state, was raped by her uncle over several years. After public pressure, the hospital in her hometown refused to perform the abortion – even though the judiciary had previously allowed the abortion. The girl had to fly to the state of Pernambuco, more than 1,000 kilometers away.
Hundreds of feminists gathered there on Sunday to support the girl and to form a human chain against the right. One of the demonstrators was Carol Vergolino, a politician from the left-wing PSOL party. “When the girl came to the clinic, she had her teddy bear in her hand. And the fundamentalists insulted her as a murderer,” said the 42-year-old.
According to Vergolino, the protests are also a direct consequence of President Bolsonaro’s policy: “The President spreads hatred and incites people to take such actions.”
Taking a public position on abortion in Brazil can be dangerous. Doctors report massive threats and reprisals. The doctor who performed the abortion for the 10-year-old was also excommunicated from the Catholic Church a few years ago for his work.