Preacher-turned-Minister for women says gender equality leads to violence against women

Controversial leader blames gender equality ideaologies for violence against women in Brazil because "boys will think since girls are equal they can handle being hit.".

Photo from Damares Alves' Twitter.

Brazil – Damares Alves has been a controversial figure in Brazil’s political scene ever since her appointment by former military officer and far-right president Jair Bolsonaro. Alves, 54, a conservative evangelical preacher, was the president’s choice as minister of women, family and human rights, and indigenous people.

In her new campaign to address violence against women, Alves states that “If they think that boys and girls are equal, as was preached in the past by some ideologies, boys will think since girls are equal they can handle being hit.”

She has also emphasized the need to return to chivalry in the sense of boys “bringing flowers to girls” or “opening car doors for women.”

Alves, who holds conservative Christian views and strongly opposes the separation of Church and State in governance, and lawmaking, has been quoted as saying, in one church service, that “It is time for the church to tell the nation that we have come … It is time for the church to govern.”

An anti-abortionist, she firmly believes in traditional hetero-normative gender roles in which “women are born to be mothers” and “boys will wear blue and girls pink,” and has also denounced feminism as “a war between men and women.”

During her Jan 2019 ceremonial swearing-in, Alves declared “The ideological indoctrination of children and teenagers in Brazil is over.”

Alves is also the co-founder of “Atini-Voz Pela Vida” (Voice for Life), an organization that aims to stop practices of infanticide among some indigenous peoples. Part of the organization’s work includes preaching evangelical beliefs in these communities.

Since his election, Brazil’s president Bolsonaro has abolished the country’s ministry of human rights, explicitly declared his homophobia, planned to censor school textbooks of feminist and LGBT content, as well as endangered the rights of indigenous communities, and their land. His presidential campaign has been supported by evangelical churches.

“We will unite people, value the family, respect religions and our Judeo-Christian tradition, combat gender ideology and rescue our values,” Bolsonaro said during his inauguration.

Homophobic hate crimes saw a 75 percent increase during the months leading to Bolsonaro’s win. A human rights group reported that 1 in 4 women are killed in Brazil every day just for being women.

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