RIO DE JANEIRO – Hundreds of Afro-Brazilian women marched on Sunday in Rio de Janeiro to protest racism and demand that it be combated, paying special tribute to local Councilor Marielle Franco, who was murdered in March 2018.
The protest took place on the iconic Copacabana Beach, one of the world’s key tourist spots, and was joined by about 500 women as part of the activities to commemorate the International Day of Black Latin American and Caribbean Women last Thursday.
With the slogan “Black Women Resist,” the demonstrators demanded that their rights be respected and denounced racism, machismo and other forms of gender violence in the fifth edition of the Rio march.
“Stop killing us!” Claudia Vitalino, 50, exclaimed to EFE, highlighting the high indices of violence suffered by black women, compared to white females, in a country where the majority of the population has African roots.
Femicide is increasing in Brazil among black and indigenous women at twice the rate for whites, according to recent academic studies.
Manuela Batista came from the interior of Rio de Janeiro state for the third time to participate in the demonstration.
“It’s an extremely important political event, not only for black women but also for all those women who share our causes, who denounce racism and machismo, respecting the leading role being taken by black women,” the 26-year-old told EFE.
She said that the march serves “to strengthen” and unite women into “a single voice,” although she noted that the fight against racism “goes on every day.”
The protest also served to keep alive the memory of politician, feminist and human rights activist Marielle Franco, who was shot to death on the night of March 14, 2018, as she was riding in a car through downtown Rio after participating in a political event.
The driver of the vehicle, Anderson Gomes, was also killed.
Last March, Brazilian authorities arrested two alleged material authors of the double murder, although so far it is not known who actually killed Franco.
At the Sunday protest, the participants, most of them women, demanded better answers from the authorities and that the activist’s memory not be forgotten, that she not become just another “statistic.”
“We understand that it was a political assassination, but also that there are other ‘Marielles’ and that you can’t run away from the fight,” Batista said.