By Jandira Queiroz* and Sonia Corrêa**
On May 13th, 2010, President Lula finally signed a new decree altering the text of III National Program for Human Rights (PNDH3), in response to the voices that have contested original contents considered by them to be controversial: decriminalization of abortion, the prohibition of religious symbols display in public buildings, social accountability of media, procedures regarding the mediation of agrarian conflicts and also the revision of human rights violations during the military dictatorship in Brazil.
Particularly in respect to abortion he original text stated that the government would (or should) “support the decriminalization of abortion having in mind women’s autonomy” . The new text is limited to “consider abortion as a public health question, with guaranteed access to health services”.
In SPW Newsletter n. 8 issued at the end of March we said that the debate on the subject was not yet closed and there was still the possibility for the formula adopted by PNDH2 (2002), that recommended the revision of punitive laws about abortion, would be kept. However, this is not what happened. The text simply reaffirms the understanding of abortion as a major public health problem and mentions services. This mean clear retrogression, not simply in relation to the language adopted by PNDH2, but especially regarding paragraph 106k of Beijing Conference Platform of Action, that Brazil has signed without any reserves. This is really regrettable as, among other, indicates that religious dogmatism has more influence on decision-making on human rights than women’s perspective or international parameters.
Also after meeting between president Lula, on the night of May 12th, with the Prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy, Cardinal Dom Claudio Hummes, he also declared that the section of the text that concerns the display of religious signs in public buildings would be revised. The decree signed yesterday, has fully suppressed this content, once again submitting the decision to the influence of the Catholic Church. This retreta also implies disrespect to the premises of state secularity and religious plurality.
Let’s wait for the reactions of Brazilian society, at large, and more specifically of social movements that have participated in more than 50 policy oriented conferences from which the content of PNDH3 was extracted. What voices will cry aloud this time? In relation to which demands that have been eliminated? What will be the next chapter of the PNDH3 – the novel Brazilian soap opera?
> Click here to read news and other analises on PNDH3 (in Portuguese).
* Jandira Queiroz is a project assistant of the Sexuality Policy Watch (SPW).
** Sonia Corrêa is co-chair of the Sexuality Policy Watch (SPW).