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   I hate the rank smell of religious zealotry, so self-righteous, so sure, so confident that the grand ooga-booga has ordained that the status of women in Brazil needs to be taken down a score of notches.

As reported by the CBC:

“A congressional committee led by evangelical Christians has voted to ban abortion in Brazil in all situations, including cases of rape and where the mother’s life is in danger.
The decision was approved 18-1 late Wednesday by a special committee considering a constitutional amendment to extend maternity leave for mothers of premature babies.”

Let’s just call this instance #234987022808 of the institution of religion reinforcing the patriarchal status quo in a ‘modern’ society. The women in Brazil are just going to have to get used to the notion that their existence is defined by their patriarchally sanctioned social role as birthers of children (full stop). Also, the role as women who die in childbirth because apparently it is their ultimate calling. Fuck free will, bodily autonomy, and kooky notions of universal humanity for the female sex class.

Crimes against the female half of humanity aside(!), things were not all that amazing on the reproductive rights front for women in Brazil before hand. The church of choir-boy abuse..err..catholic church had the usual oppressive sanctions against women in place before hand.

“Abortion is illegal in predominantly Catholic Brazil except when the pregnancy is the result of a rape or puts the mother’s life at risk.”

Let’s let the high misogynists in charge speak for themselves:

“To defend abortion, like it or not, is a Satanic, diabolical and destructive act,” evangelical congressman Pastor Eurico told the committee, brandishing a replica of a 12-week-old fetus.”

Satanic… Indeed.

Specious bullshit like the above statement should be all the justification necessary for justification of separation of church and state. Further more, it is all the evidence required to illustrate how skull-explodingly bad religion is for women and society in general.

All isn’t *quite* lost yet though. The male politician might actually find it within themselves a shred of moral and ethical decency and kill this constitutional amendment before it becomes law.

“The move to criminalize all cases of abortion would require supermajorities, or two-thirds of the votes in both chambers of Congress, as it is part of a constitutional amendment.”

But then again, the men who seem to think it is their right to dictate how women lead their lives and make their reproductive choice might make a ‘compromise’ and merrily throw women under the bus for movement on the obviously much more important topic of pension reform.

“The measure could clear those hurdles as part of a trade-off for other legislation the governing coalition seeks to pass, such as pension reform needed to plug a gaping budget deficit.”

How magnanimous of the ruling dudes in charge. Because shitting on women will always result in the betterment of society. It’s 2017 and it would seem that most of the world isn’t exactly on board with the whole treating women like full members of human race yet.

What a time to be alive!

[Source:cbc.ca]

“They use everything about the hog except the squeal.” ― Upton Sinclair, The Jungle

Driving into work today I listened to a story about how many large countries of the world had recently banned imports of Brazilian beef and chicken into their countries.  Reports from a whistle-blower about cardboard being ground up with raw chicken, mixing of fresh and rotten meat and of course, chemical baths for tainted meat to hide the smell of decay.

I thought to myself, what a lovely metaphor for Capitalism in general.  Brazil’s meat packers export some 10.2 billion (US) dollars worth of beef and chicken to the world.  Our capitalist friends and the notion that they hold would like us to think that because these meat exports are crucial to the Brazilian economy every care would be take to insure that the product being delivered to tables across the world would be of the highest quality.

“The investigators allege that JBS and BRF disguised inedible beef, pork and chicken, bound for both domestic consumption and export, by injecting the meat with chemicals and acids to improve its appearance and smell; by mixing expired meat with healthy meat; and by fleshing out meat that was considered weak with water and low-cost starch, such as manioc flour.”

Well.

This would seem to point to a different narrative about meat packers goals and aspirations it goes something like this.  The global supply chain for beef and chicken is quite complicated, thus actually tracing product directly back to us (Brazilian producers) will be difficult at best.  Every pound of product is more profit for us, and there are quick and easy methods – acid baths to remove the tainted smell, cardboard/cellulose stock to stretch the grinds – that will significant improve our bottom line.  A few people far away might get sick and/or die, but that won’t come back to bite us because of the nebulous supply chain, and thus the acquisition of profit must be prioritized.

The government food inspectors must also be bribed into complicity because if they were actually doing their jobs, this second narrative could not happen.  Sadly, this seems to also be the case in the Brazilian situation.

“Investigators say Operation Weak Meat uncovered evidence of bribes paid to Brazilian officials, including some at the federal Ministry of Agriculture, to look the other way. Police issued 38 arrest warrants and closed 21 meat-packing facilities for further inspection.

Brazil’s federal Justice Minister, Osmar Serraglio, was allegedly caught on tape calling one of the inspectors under investigation “big boss” in a phone conversation with one of the leaders of the bribery scheme in Parana state.

Serraglio, who oversees the investigating police force, said the police raids prove he is not interfering in the inquiry. Police in Brazil said there was insufficient evidence to launch a separate investigation into the minister’s involvement.”

This is the true face of capitalism, the face that we don’t learn about in school and the news.  The capitalism that always places profit over people, the capitalism based on the exploitation of others, the capitalism that makes our way of life possible.  We are insulated from the sharp pointy bits of capitalism, perhaps shedding a maudlin tear now and then for the exploited poor, wherever they happen to be in the world, and then moving to the next goal of material acquisition.

“However, Elliott anticipates the scandal will have worldwide consequences, provoking a rise in commodity prices globally. He also believes that similar arrangements — bribing officials to grade unsuitable meat as edible for consumption — will be uncovered in other countries that export large amounts of meat, as importers begin tighter inspections after Brazil’s revelation.”

 

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” ― Upton Sinclair, I, Candidate for Governor: And How I Got Licked.

 

The Brazilian tainted meat situation exemplifies what is wrong with the current system and what was wrong with the state of things in 1906 when Upton Sinclair’s the Jungle was published.

Ain’t progress grand?

 

“It appeared as if the whole world was one elaborate system, opposed to justice and kindness, and set to making cruelty and pain.” Upton Sinclair, Oil!

 

[Source:cbc.ca]

Behold, the fetus fetish.

Unfortunately, the torrent of burning stupid never stops (the republican primary debates are ample evidence), not even for the new year.  Brazil has just passed a piece of legislation making compulsory to register if you happen to be pregnant.   How nice.  Winnowing away of the rights of women has not gone away in the new year and it looks like the pace is increasing in South America.

“In the dead of night on December 27, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff enacted legislation that will require all pregnancies to be registered with the government. Provisionary Measure 557 (PM 557) created the National System of Registration, Vigilance and Monitoring Women’s Care during Pregnancy and Post Childbirth for the Prevention of Maternal Mortality (National Registration System).

She used a provisionary measure—intended only for urgent matters—that allows the president to pass a law without congressional approval. Congress only gets to debate and approve the law once it has been enacted. Rousseff claims that PM 557 will address Brazil’s high rates of maternal mortality by ensuring better access, coverage and quality of maternal health care, notably for high-risk pregnancies.”

Kinda spooky.  No debate, no discussion just poof!  and you get to watch your rights disappear in the rear view mirror of misogynist public policy.

“Both public and private health providers must report all pregnancies—providing women’s names—with the National Registration System so the state can then track these pregnancies, from prenatal to postpartum care, presumably to evaluate and monitor health care provided.
How does simply monitoring pregnancies reduce maternal mortality? There is no guarantee that care will be available to all pregnant women and no investment in improving health services included in the legislation.”

Of course registering women having birth might be considered a first step if there was more medical aid forthcoming, but nothing like that is in the legislation.

“And what’s the benefit to women? PM 557 does authorize the federal government to provide financial support up to R$50.00 (roughly US$27) for registered pregnant women for their transportation to health facilities for pre-natal and delivery care. However, to receive the stipend women must comply with specific conditions set by the state related to pre-natal care. Let’s face it, that paltry sum may not even cover the roundtrip for one appointment depending on where a woman lives.

In fact, PM 557 does not guarantee access to health exams, timely diagnosis, providers trained in obstetric emergency care, or immediate transfers to better facilities. So while the legislation guarantees R$50.00 for transportation, it will not even ensure a pregnant woman will find a vacant bed when she is ready to give birth. And worse yet, it won’t minimize her risk of death during the process.”

So, bad for women, bad for their life expectancy, bad for their chances to die in pregnancy.  It would seem to be a fairly raw deal for women all the way around.

“Last but certainly not least, MP 557 violates all women’s right to privacy by creating compulsory registration to control and monitor her reproductive life. In fact, it places the rights of the fetus over the woman, effectively denying her reproductive autonomy. A woman will now be legally “obligated” to have all the children she conceives and she will be monitored by the State for this purpose.”

Ah, there we go the real reason for MP 557, those unruly women need less autonomy.  Why does that always seem to be the answer when it comes to many programs dealing with women’s health?  Rhetorical questions aside, Brazil needs to get this bill back in front of the assembly and rework it into less a monstrosity, stat.

 

 

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