RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The official discourse is that the new Brazilian government has a mission to defend western values and even to fight for the preservation of Christianity. However, during UN voting, the government found that it is one of the few countries in the world to ally with the ultra-conservative ideals of the Muslim world.
On Thursday, July 11th, following weeks of debate, resolutions on how to tackle abuse were put to the vote in the UN human rights council. Throughout the day, some of the most conservative proposals in the Muslim world received the unexpected support of Brazil.
One of the submitted documents referred to violence against women. In explaining the resolution, the Mexican government stated that governments point out that women’s freedom inevitably depends on their “sexual freedom” and that its protection involved ensuring sex education in schools. It is also established that women have the right to “control and choose their sexuality” and that “no physical empowerment should be limited.”
The Brazilian government chose silence and did not object at the time of approval. However, it surprised all by allying with some of the most conservative governments in the world.
The government of Pakistan, on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, suggested modifying the text by submitting an amendment to remove references to the need to provide sex education for girls. “It could be harmful to girls,” alerted the Islamabad delegation.
Without explanation, Brazil voted in favor of Pakistan’s proposal.
In another resolution proposed by the Netherlands and more than seventy countries on the forced marriage of minors, Brazil surprised once again.
The text recommended actions and established rights. In explaining the resolution, governments alerted that twelve million girls are forced to marry before the age of 18, with an impact on their rights and education.
The Egyptian government, however, suggested an amendment, calling for the text to suppress the notion that there is a “right to sexual and reproductive health.”
Brazil voted in favor of Egypt’s proposal, once again without providing any explanation. Countries such as Bahrain, Somalia, and Qatar also voted with Itamaraty, Brazil’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Bahrain, Saudis, and other Muslims called for the text on child marriage to be amended to reflect the role of “guardians and parents” for girls in their education. According to these governments, “the right of parents” would prevail, and they would need to be heeded when dealing with the issue of education to avoid a forced marriage.
Brazil supported the Arabs. However, this amendment, like all other amendments above, fell before western opposition.