Women from across Brazil took to the streets on Sept. 29 to protest far-right presidential candidate, Jair Bolsonaro. With the vote coming on Sunday, women are protesting against what they say are his misogynistic, homophobic and racist views. The protests, a reflection of the #EleNao (#NotHim) movement that has gathered steam on social media, happened in countless cities nationwide, including Sao Paulo and Brasilia. The protests came the same day that Bolsonaro left from a Sao Paulo hospital where he received treatment after being stabbed during a campaign rally on Sept. 6.
The protesters are using the hashtag #NotHim as the rallying cry to prevent Bolsonaro from taking office in the October election.
VIDEO: Hundreds of thousands of women turn out for a wave of nationwide protests in Brazil against the candidacy of the right-wing frontrunner in next week's presidential election, Jair Bolsonaro pic.twitter.com/2O6ZqffKBJ
— AFP news agency (@AFP) September 30, 2018
Bolsonaro is currently leading polls with around 32 percent of support among voters polled, but also has the highest rejection rate of any candidate. Bolsonaro, a Rio de Janeiro congressman since 1991, has made misogynistic comments in the past, as well as controversial statements on issues relating to race, sexuality and Brazil’s military government. According to Al Jazeera, In 2014, Bolsonaro told fellow congresswomen Maria do Rosario: “I would never rape you because you do not deserve it.”
An estimated 150,000 people turned up at one march.
Biggest demonstration in the 2018 election campaign and biggest protest by women in Brazil’s history is almost ignored by national TV and doesn’t get one main headline in major papers. Only photo on front page. The role of media in Brazil’s crisis has hit a new level: shameful. pic.twitter.com/cNyIP13NNO
— Eliane Brum (@brumelianebrum) September 30, 2018
Organizers say that 150,000 people — mostly women — participated in the march in São Paulo that took over Largo da Batata, a major street in the west of the city. Bolsonaro’s rejection rate among women is 50 percent, according to the latest polling by the Brazilian Institute of Public Opinion and Statistics (IBOPE), and 33 percent among men. Protesters in the streets spoke about the fear and bigotry that Bolsonoro has brought to the political aisle.
“We’re saying to those people who are undecided: Not him,” Selia Figueiredo, a banker in São Paulo told ABC News, who said she worried for her rights as a gay woman if Bolsonaro were to win. They can vote “for anyone else, but not him.”
Bolsonaro’s candidacy has attracted international attention because of the rise of populism in many countries.
#EPelaVidadasMulheres was one of the hashtags trending during the day in Brazil, as protests took place in 28 cities across the country.
There were also pro-Bolsonaro demonstration in 14 other cities. pic.twitter.com/c9wKpH6spo
— Mia Alberti (@mialberti) September 29, 2018
Bolsonaro’s campaign has focused on culture-war issues and “traditional” family values that some say would make life harder for minorities. He hasn’t changed his rhetoric during the campaign and has kept up his praise of Brazil’s military. He has also vowed to give police permission to shoot first and ask questions later.
Brazil is in the middle of a moment of intense and unusual turmoil after a tumultuous few years. It has suffered a deep recession and the impeachment of its first female president. Many see this political uproar in Brazil as an example of political extremism and populism similarly to Brexit in the United Kingdom.
Some say Bolsonaro has drawn support from those in Brazil that are tired of the left.
Women against Bolsonaro in Ribeira do Pombal, a small city in Bahia. I am sure that Bolsonaro or Haddad will face a lot of protests if one of them win the race. #Brazil #Elections #NotHim #EleNão #Eleições2018 https://t.co/ZFAgzIFLoQ pic.twitter.com/KkTjJiJgWE
— Manoel (@manoelsantosjr) September 30, 2018
The male-female split in Brazil now can be compared to the divisions in the United States in 2016 when Donald Trump was running. For Brazil, this polarizing moment in politics has brought urgency to what is shaping up to be a pivotal election.
“This is a strong societal reaction to a candidate that is a threat to the entire Brazilian population,” Ivan Valente, a congressman for the left-wing Socialism and Liberty Party told the LA Times. “And it’s because of all of these women coming together to fight for their rights that we have a chance at avoiding taking several steps backward by electing Bolsonaro.”