Country Study Comparison Indian vs. Brazilian Women

Topics: Feminism, Domestic violence, Woman Pages: 14 (5505 words) Published: May 3, 2005
In the United States, equality between a husband and a wife continues to progress, globally, especially in third world countries the oppressed position of women in the household continues to be a prevalent problem.

In both India and Brazil, women are not equal to their male counter parts within the household. Factors that cause this inequality to manifest and continue can be attributed to, male dominant and patriarchal histories of the countries, employment opportunities, legal issues, especially the rights of women to control reproduction, educational opportunities for girls, marriage customs and vulnerability of women within the family due to fears of violence, domestic abuse and rape.

The colonization of Brazil occurred primarily by men of Portuguese decent. In creating this society, they instilled the values of machismo, which is highly prevalent in most Latin American countries. This concept provides men with both authority and strength while women are placed in a position of sub-ordinance and identified as weak (Aboim, 2004). The tradition of machismo as well as the patriarchy of the Catholic Church places men in dominance (Aboim, 2004). With this "superiority" comes the sexual double standard. Men are expected to demonstrate their masculinity and virility through premarital and extramarital sexual experiences. Women on the other hand are expected to remain virginal until marriage and to be faithful to their husbands throughout the union (Lewis, 1997). These values are difficult to put into practice at times because of poverty, isolation and unequal ratios of men and women. As a result, illegitimacy and prostitution are common. Although this paradox exists, the traditional view is the most widely accepted (ibid). Women have, despite their oppression, been allowed open access to schools and employment, and in 1933 were granted suffrage on a national level. With this equality they were still not recognized as equal with men in matters of the home. Men were automatically considered the heads of household and women were legally subordinate to their husbands. Under a Civil Code reform put into place in 1962 women were considered to be in the same legal category as minors (Aboim, 2004). Women of middle and upper classes could not legally represent their family or administer the families' assets. Nor were they able to work outside of the house without the consent of the male head of household (Alvim, 2000). Before the creation of the new Brazilian Constitution of 1988 which granted men and women equality under the law, the father or husband of a woman had the right to control any employment contract she entered into. If her work was thought to be interfering with the health or well being of the family these men had the right to abolish these contracts. The New Brazilian Constitution provided women with many triumphs in attempting to close the gap of inequality between men and women. A key aspect of this constitution was the redefinition of the family in a more democratic direction and redistribution of authority within the family (Verucci, 1991). Previously the only right given to women in constitutions was the right to invoke the protection of the state. This was only the case in families in which marriage vows had been taken. It therefore provided little comfort to women involved in common law marriages (Verucci, 1991). Divorce had only within the last decade become an option and even then, women were forced to wait years and had great difficulty in getting back any wages they had earned during the marriage (Blaney, 2003). The New Constitution defined the family as the basis of society and it offered protection to the women, by the state, regardless of how the union was established. This ensured a stable union between men and women. The constitution went further finally revoking the husband's "Chefia" or status as head of the household, and suggested that the rights and duties should be equally...
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