Ricardo Nunes did not choose to wait!

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By SIMONY DOS ANJOS*

The mayor and his base in the City Council are already promoting the conservative offensive against human rights in the City of São Paulo

A little over a month ago I wrote that Ricardo Nunes is a fundamentalist threat to the city of São Paulo, in terms of women's rights. Well, as soon as he took charge of the city hall, he already put his rosary in the lives of teenagers in São Paulo. The city hall issued a technical opinion – kept confidential – guaranteeing the effectiveness of the Eu Escolhi Esperar Program, proposed by the PL 813/2020 of the councilor and Pastor of the Evangelical Church Quadrangular Rinaldi Digilio (PSL), in the fight against teenage pregnancy. When I saw this proposed law, I went back to my childhood and adolescence, as an evangelical person.

In church, I always heard about waiting to start having sex, just like a lot of teenagers hear in church every weekend. This practice of reiterating abstinence as a life ethic did not prevent a large number of teenagers and young people from having sex, it did not prevent people I knew from becoming pregnant, or worse, from having no choice but to be abused. This type of initiative blames the person who does not maintain chastity, placing him as morally reprehensible and silences girls and boys who may have suffered some type of sexual violence, since rape will be understood as a sin, and therefore, object of moral and religious judgment.

Moral judgment that often takes place in many social spheres: legislative, legal and educational. Expressions such as “did you try to close your legs to stop the abuse?”, “ah, but if she was abused since she was 6 years old, she was used to it”, “but what clothes was she wearing?”, 'if she was at home, that would not would have happened” etc. These speeches were directed at girls who were abused and who are totally excluded by this PL.

The bill that institutes an educational program on sexuality for teenagers simply ignores the sexual abuse of girls under 14 years of age. And this is extremely problematic, as it credits the social problem of early pregnancy to the choice of girls and boys. The PL ignores that in 2015: 29.979 records of abuse against girls under 19 years old, with 8.541 victims aged 10 to 14 years. In 2016: 32.704 records, with 9.477 victims aged 10 to 14 years. In 2017: 39.471 records, with 11.019 victims aged 10 to 14 years and in 2018: 45.219 records, with 12.599 victims aged 10 to 14 years (According to the Laboratory of Demography and Population Studies of the UFJF).

A project that excels at assisting adolescents, training teachers and health professionals in relation to the prevention of teenage pregnancy, has to deal with the reception of victims of sexual abuse, how to identify someone who may be a victim and also guide adolescents and young people about abuse. It must have as its objective the fight against Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and how to avoid them – and the PL is not concerned with this scenario, it only institutes a program whose objective is religious proselytism in relation to sexuality, with public money.

The point is that using abstinence as public policy will only reinforce the guilt of those who did not wait, or were violated by being unable to wait. Obviously, in a safe society and in which sexual and gender education is offered seriously in schools and UBSs, the choice of abstinence is possible, however without jeopardizing information about contraception, about the functioning of the body and how to be responsible in relation to your body and the body of the other.

It should not be forgotten that the abstinence policy already defended by the Minister of the Family, Women and Human Rights Damares Alves has been scientifically proven to be ineffective. An article published in British Medical Journal, analyzed 13 surveys carried out with adolescents between 10 and 21 years old and confirmed that the impact of these policies is innocuous. The study demonstrated that these programs, in addition to not preventing early pregnancies and STIs, do not offer a support network to adolescents who have already started their sexual life.

Legally, according to the technical note of the Nucleus for the Defense and Promotion of Women's Rights of the Public Defender's Office of the State of São Paulo, this project violates two constitutional principles: secularity and impersonality (Articles 19 and 37 of the Federal Constitution). That of impersonality, as the PL bears the name of a non-profit legal entity under private law, called Instituto Eu Escolhi Esperar, that is, with the approval of this PL, the municipality starts to promote a private interest, with public money. That of secularism, as this same institution is run by evangelical pastors and promotes religious dogmas in relation to sex. According to the note, this PL hurts the Secular State, since the “Secular State cannot be influenced by a specific religion”.

Finally, the Bill encourages private organizations to receive money that could be invested in programs that already exist in the Municipal Health and Education Plan, with the structure guaranteed by the Child and Adolescent Statute, based on research, science and in secularity. The approval of this PL means that Nunes and his base in the City Council are already promoting the conservative offensive to human rights in the City of São Paulo. The defense of the Secular State is urgent, science, the rationality of the management of public resources is threatened by religious fundamentalisms. Ricardo Nunes did not choose to wait and has already started his conservative offensive.

* Simony of Angels is a doctoral candidate in anthropology at USP. She is a member of the Collective “Evangelicals for Gender Equality”, of the Evangelical Black Women Network.

 

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