Brazil: Demand Investigation of Lesbian Murder in Pernamnuco, Brazil

SUMMARY

Nanci Tavares do Nascimento and Maria da Conçeicao, a lesbian couple, were shot to death on October 16, 2003 in the city of Recife, Pernambuco state, Brazil. 137 women have been murdered in that Brazilian state in 2003. In this particular case, local NGOs think misogyny coupled with homophobia to make the crime particularly ferocious: Ms. do Nascimento was shot 17 times and Ms. da Conçeicao, 14. Given the high rates of impunity in crimes where the victims are women, gay men or transgender people, local NGOs are asking for international help to pressure the Recife government to investigate.

ACTION

IGLHRC joins Forum de Mulheres de Pernambuco to ask for letters condemning the crimes and urging the government to investigate them. Please write TODAY to the following addresses

Chefia Geral de Policia Civil (Chief of Police)
Bel. Anibal Alves de Moura Filho
End. Rua da Aurora, 405, Boa Vista - Recife - Pe
Email: policiac@fisepe.pe.gov.br
Phone: 55 81 3421 4473
Fax: 55 81 3421 2070
Pernambuco State Governor
Mr. Jarbas Vasconcelos
Palacio do Campo das Prncesas
Praça da República, s

CEP 50010-050
Recife-Pernambuco- Brazil
governo@fisepe.pe.gov.br

Recife City Major
Mr.João Paulo Lima e Silva
Administraçao Municipal: Av. Cais do Apolo, 925 - Bairro do Recife
CEP 50030-230 - Recife PE
Phone: 55 81 3425 8117 or 3425 8614
Fax: 55 81 3425 8862
Comunicacao@redife.pe.gov.br

And please send a copy to the Forum de Mulheres de Pernambuco at carla@soscorpo.org.br

MODEL LETTER

Dear Sir,

We are writing to express our deep concern about the brutal and malicious murders of Nanci Tavares do Nascimento and Maria da Conçeicao on October 16, 2003 in the city of Recife, in Pernambuco State, Brazil.

We would first like to acknowledge that Brazil has been among the leading governments in the world in instituting progressive legislation protecting the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. For example, we applaud the prominent role of Brazil in sponsoring a landmark resolution on "Human Rights and Sexual Orientation" presented at the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. Therefore, failure to conduct a thorough investigation of these murders would be inconsistent with Brazil's aim to promote the human rights of all people.

Therefore, we urge you to conduct a prompt and complete investigation of this horrific act of violence. According toThe Forum de Mulheres de Pernambuco, a local feminist group, there have been 135 cases in which women have been victims of violent deaths this year alone, demonstrating that these murders were not an isolated incident of violence against women in this state. We request that you condemn this pattern of crimes as rooted in homophobia and misogyny. Further, we urge you to ensure an exhaustive investigation of these murders.

We look forward to having the opportunity to congratulate you on your successful prosecution of the perpetrators and your for your public condemnation of these acts of homophobic and misogynist violence.

Sincerely,

(Your name, organization and address)

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

Nanci Tavares do Nascimento (48) and Maria da Conceiçao (34) lived in a working class neighborhood called Córrego do Curió in Recife. They sold beverages from their house and were regarded by their neighbors are "quiet, hard-working women who never created trouble".

During the early morning of October 16, 2003, armed men attacked the house in which the women lived and worked. Nanci received 17 shots and Maria, 14. Dozens of bullets can still be seen embedded in the walls of the couple's house. Their dog was also injured during the attack.

Violence against women, gay men and transgender people is a serious problem in the state of Pernambuco. The Forum de Mulheres de Pernambuco -a feminist organization, has documented 135 cases in which women have been victims of violent deaths, this year alone. Luiz Mott, in his book "O Crime Anti-Homossexual no Brasil" (2002), rates Pernambuco in the second place among Brazilian states for the amount of homophobic murders he was able to document there (16 in 2001 alone). He also considers that state as "one of the most dangerous for gay people to live in: in proportion to its population, the number of homophobic crimes is enormous.

The couple's landlord, Ms. Lindinalva Maria Teixeira dos Santos, declared to local media that she knew the women were lovers but "they never failed to pay the rent nor created any trouble. They never complained of having enemies in the neighborhood. I can't imagine what must have happened, but whoever did it hated both of them real bad".

Both women's families reported having been estranged from them for many years and were unable to provide any information to the police.

The Forum de Mulheres de Pernambuco will meet with Ordem dos Advogados do Brasil (a lawyer's association) to ask them to appoint prestigious criminal lawyers to work on those cases where women have been murdered and investigations are not advancing. Before the lesbian couple was murdered in Córrego do Curió, three women were killed in another city, Maranguape, in August. Nothing yet has been done about this case.

The Forum has issued a statement that says:

Once again what we are constantly denouncing has been confirmed: perversity and hatred are running loose in our society. Nanci was shot to death 17 times and her partner, Conceiçao, 14. The hatred in this crime is the same that marks homophobic murders as such. We demand that the Civilian Police investigate and let society know what measures have been implemented against the murderers. We, the Forum de Mulheres de Pernambuco, keep watching. Would it be that after 132 women murdered in Pernambuco during 2003 time is not yet ripe for public authorities to break their silence and express their condemnation of these murders and fulfill their obligations to protect life?

INTERNATIONAL LAW

Right to life, liberty and security of person is protected by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in its Article 3; by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in its Articles 6 and 9, and by the Interamerican Convention on Human Rights (IAHRC) in its Articles 4 and 7.

Right to equality before the law and to be free from discrimination are protected by the UDHR in its Articles 2 and 7, by the ICCPR in its Articles 2 and 26, and by the IACHR in its Articles 1 and 24.

The United Nations Human Rights Committee affirmed in its decision in Toonen v Australia (1994) that existing protections against discrimination in Articles 2 and 26 of the ICCPR should be understood to include sexual orientation as a protected status. Numerous other human rights mechanisms of the United Nations have subsequently condemned discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Brazil has ratified both the ICCPR and the IAHRC in 1992. The UDHR is considered customary law for all Member States of the United Nations, including Brazil.

The Brazilian Constitution protects the right to equality before the law and affirms the rights to "life, freedom, equality, and safety" as well as the "inviolability of the private life" (Article 5). It also includes, among the "fundamental aims of the Brazilian Republic", the following: "to promote the well being of all, without prejudices based on origin, race, sex, color, age or any other form of discrimination" (Article 3.4).

The Pernambuco Constitution defines "public security" as "a duty for the State, a right and responsibility for all" (Article 101).

ABOUT IGLHRC

The mission of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) is to secure the full enjoyment of the human rights of all people and communities subject to discrimination or abuse on the basis of sexual orientation or expression, gender identity or expression, and/or HIV status. A US-based non-profit, non-governmental organization (NGO), IGLHRC effects this mission through advocacy, documentation, coalition building, public education, and technical assistance.

IGLHRC
1375 Sutter Street, Suite 222
San Francisco, CA 94109
USA
Telephone: +1-415-561-0633
Fax: +1-415-561-0619
Email: iglhrc@iglhrc.org
http://www.iglhrc.org

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