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May 25, 2007

Muwaji honoured in Congress

8th March 2007

Muwaji honoured in the Chamber of Deputies (Congress)

Mr President, Congressmen,

This evening, I would like to begin once again, a debate that I have been battling for 2 years of the highest relevance: the practice of infanticide in some of our tribal villages in our country. The practice of infanticide has happened in some tribal villages which follow a cultural practice, many times in the hundreds, by which, twins and children with physical deficiencies are sacrificed and even buried alive.

Mr President, even in the 21st century, we are still living with this reality!

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that every human being has the right to life. Article 5 of the Brazilian Federal Constitution also states that every Brazilian citizen has the right to life. The International Workers Organisation (IWO) also does not accept this violation of the right to life.

Today, I have had the opportunity to represent the Human Rights Commission of this house through the visit of an indigenous couple, parents of triplets. The children are in Brasília to escape from the traditions of their tribe (of which the mother belongs to), that demand, in the case of twins, the sacrifice of one of these children – imagine what happens in the case of triplets!

This matter is very complex and provokes many different reactions. I cannot see how to impede the juridical system, nor other national or even international systems. Even President Lula, on the 19th April 2004 issued a decree ordering the compliance of the IWO Convention in regards to the importance of preserving customs and traditions of indigenous peoples, on condition that the fundamental right to life is upheld.

The practice of infanticide is not justified, however much anthropologists wish to defend tradition and cultural practices of certain peoples. The number of sacrificed children per year in this country is far from few; victims of a cultural practice that many times is more important than the most fundamental human instinct: Preserving life itself.

Mr President, we are in need of well defined politics within reach of the Federal and State Governments, through persuading tribal chiefs to end this practice. Promisingly, many indigenous tribes have already abolished this custom, understanding the value of life.

A cultural practice that states that, in the case of twins, that the child that is born last is evil is not just. It is a myth, a fable.

We have to encourage this debate in the tribal villages. Many forums and seminars need to promote this discussion. Imagine a mother seeing her own child, soon after having the umbilical cord cut, being thrown into a hold in the ground and covered with earth, still living! We need to understand this process and contribute so that this horrendous practice is abolished.

To finish, Mr President, on this International Women’s Day, I would like to honour Brazilian women through Iganani’s mother, who rebelled against the cultural practices of her people in order to save the life of her daughter. Born with a deficiency, the young girl was destined to be buried alive, and it was only because her mother refused to give her up, believing in a better fate for both of them. To this woman, I pay my greatest tribute, she was the motivation that caused ATINI to come into being; ATINI, which in this Suruwahá language, means voice – in this case, a voice for life, a voice that cries out.

Mr. Henrique Afonso
Session: 029.1.53.O
Date: 08/03/2007

Uma voz pela vida

Fale conosco

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