Janaina Oliveira is a young woman from a poor neighbourhood in one of Rio de Janeiro's suburbs with an alarmingly high rate of violence against women and girls. She is not only an advocate against violence, she is also a rapper. She belongs to a group of women who are part of a project called Minas da Rima (Girls of Rhyme), supported by the UN Women Trust Fund to Eliminate Violence Against Women.
Minas da Rima has been using hip hop music and dance to highlight issues related to gender-based violence, especially among youth. The group, made up of female hip hop enthusiasts, has been reaching out to young women to get them to share their experiences with discrimination and violence, in order to rebuild their confidence and empower them to become activists themselves in their communities.
Janaina feels that the project has had a "multiplier effect" on her and the other women in the group, encouraging them to want to reach out to more young women. She feels that her life has definitely changed for the better since joining Minas da Rima, and that it is an initiative that could really reverse the history of violence in her neighbourhood.
"The project brought access to information, something that didn't exist before," she says. "It is startling to see how the criminals are never punished, and how women end up without any rights. There are few actually aware of their right to denounce domestic violence, and it's easy to understand why. They're afraid, because even if the aggressors are caught, they can easily get out, and when they do, the situation gets worse."
Janaina says that her decision to join the fight against violence came from her learning through the project of the challenges facing women who are abused. She wants to do something about it — "It's important to demand from our congressmen to approve more severe laws that address this problem, because there are more women dying at home, as a result of domestic violence, than in wars."
The rapper will soon launch a video clip that condemns domestic violence, and she expects that its broadcast on TV will open up an important space for a more intense debate around the issue. "It is important that women have access to information, that they fight for their rights, so that in the next elections we can choose better and demand a more solid legislation, one that guarantees our protection," she says.
Minas da Rima is the beneficiary of financial assistance from the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women, via a grant to Comunicação Educação e Informação em Gênero (CEMINA) in 2004 for the project titled "The Women of the Hip Hop Culture United for the Elimination of VAW."
(Story Date: 17 November 2005)