Thousands of people gathered on Wednesday in Rio de Janeiro and other cities of the country in order to protest against a bill restricting women's reproductive rights.
Protesters gathered in front of the National Assembly chanting slogans like “The pill remains, Cunha go away,” referring to the President of the Chamber of Deputies Eduardo Cunha, who supports the bill.
“We will not allow the violence we are victims of to become institutionalized, and we will not let our rights retrocede,” said Marcelli Cipriana, activist and creator of the campaign “Say no to the bill 5.069” that has received over 18,000 supporters so far.
Demonstrators held one-minute of silence as a tribute to victims of illegal abortion – about one Brazilian woman dies every four days from illegal abortion according to the World Health Organization.
Meanwhile, inside the National Assembly, lawmakers were approving the final report on abortion handed by the Investigative Commission. The report's proposals included the vote of a bill that would require hospitals to warn the police every time a woman is examined over abortion-related issues.
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On Oct. 21, a lower chamber's commission approved a bill seeking to limit access to the morning-after pill and information on abortion for rape victims. The bill removed from a previous law access to the morning-after pill for rape victims, as well as the obligation to provide them with information about their rights and available health services.
The bill also compels rape victims to file a complaint at the police station and go through a physical examination before she is entitled to access health services.
However, many reports have internationally demonstrated that rape victims in general are reluctant to report their assault, mainly for shame, and fear of reprisals.
A public security report from Forum Seguranca registered more than 50,000 rapes in 2013 in Brazil – corresponding to an average of almost six rapes per hour, or one every 10 minutes. The investigation found that only 35 percent of rape victims reported the assault.
In Brazil, rape victims are allowed to abort since 1940 – as well as pregnant women whose health is at risk, and whose fetus is deformed.
Cunha, currently accused of corruption charges, has been under the spotlight since he took the leadership of opposition sectors that want to oust President Dilma Rousseff, elected last December with 51 percent. Since his appointment to the head of the National Assembly in February 2015, many socially-conservative bills have been voted: the age of criminal responsibility was lowered to 16, while the Family Status has reduced the definition of a couple to a woman and a man, among others.