By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The governor of the State of Rio de Janeiro, Luiz Fernando Pezão, signed into law earlier this week an official date commemorating the still unsolved murder of council woman Marielle Franco. March 14th will be “Marielle Franco Day – a day against the genocide of the black woman” in Rio.
The law (Lei 8.054/18) establishes that public and private institutions promote debates and lectures on the date, with the purpose of encouraging reflection on the murder of black women in Brazil.
Agencia Brasil reported that to the Youth Violence Vulnerability Index of 2017, prepared by the National Youth Secretariat in partnership with the Brazilian Forum of Public Security (FBSP), the possibility of black girls aged 15-29 being killed is double that of whites in the same age group.
For Renata Souza, the councilor’s former chief of staff, it is an important thing for black women to become the focus of public policy. She told major local media outlet O Globo, “To have March 14th as a date that saves and revives Marielle Franco’s struggle for the lives of black, poor, favela and peripheral women is very important and symbolic.”
Souza continues, “It is urgent that black women be the focus of public policies because they are the main victims of the lack of state assistance. Therefore, it is these black women who in the last ten years have the highest rates of feminicide when they are murdered by their spouses in abusive relationships.”
“They are also the main victims of obstetric violence, in public hospitals and also because of abortions in backyard clinics. They are the main victims of maternal death. Either we deal with these matters in earnest, as Marielle treated them, or black women will continue to be the main victims of the State’s neglect.”
Leila Lak, a documentary filmmaker from London living in Rio shares, “Marielle Franco was exactly the type of politician Rio needs. I am happy to see this date added to the state calendar.”
Adding, “Her legacy must be kept alive, as she gave hope to so many where there is only darkness. The fact that no one has yet been charged with her murder is a travesty so let’s hope this date will be a reminder that justice must be done and her killers must be found.”
It has been 120 days since Marielle Franco and her driver, Anderson Gomes, were assassinated while coming home from a meeting entitled ‘Jovens Negras Movendo Estruturas’ (Young Black Women for Change) in central Rio.
Franco was elected to Rio’s legislature in 2015 with the fifth highest votes and was very active in women’s rights, especially Rio’s black women who lived in favela communities and face domestic violence and human rights violations.