Day 6: I did it!
Another Tuesday that feels like an entire week; and I got an interview! But the Chamber is a place of paradoxes and conflicts. I also spent most of the day hearing the saddest stories about women losing their children to their abusive ex-husbands through the parental alienation law or being forced to co-exist with their abusers through the shared custody law. Although Brazil has a law on domestic violence - called Maria da Penha Law - these other laws have come to surpass the rights of women who have been abused.
So, before I get into it, I need to bring this to light. The parental alienation law means that mothers who report sexual abuse of children by their ex-husbands, by the fathers, are accused of parental alienation and often lose custody of their children, rather than have those claims investigated. The protection given to women under the Maria da Penha Law does not cover the children; mothers, immediately after leaving their exes and who have gained a restraining order against them are forced to co-exist with them just a few days later, because of compulsory shared custody. Today I met a lot of them. A lot. I met mothers and grandmothers begging for help. I hugged them and I cried for them and with them. There is NO shared custody with an abuser, whether he abused the mother, the child, or both. The parental alienation law needs to revoked and the shared custody law needs to come after the Maria da Penha Law.
Well, that was my morning. After lunch I got a call by the chief of staff of one of the deputies I asked to interview saying that "yeah, it's now". So, I ran over to Annex IV, where the offices are (not as far as seems, not as close either). Of course, I got off at the wrong floor and had to walk up to the floor above. Although I don't guarantee anonimity for deputies, I'd rather keep who I interviewed quiet for now. Suffice it to say that it was an hour long and awesome. Honestly, I felt on top of the freaking world! We tend to think that fieldwork is some big scary monster, especially if it's out of town, state, country. It does cost money, but it's do-able. And worth it.
I went back to the seminar. Once it finished, we found out that the meeting between new women representatives and current ones was actually open and went to watch. Slightly disheartening, as my deputy wasn't there and it was mostly the conservative women that were present. However, the coordinator of the Women's Caucus and deputy Benedita da Silva gave loads of interesting information during their presentations, including that Wednesday was going to be a special voting day as an hommage to the presence of the new women being here, with only bills of interest to the Caucus. Weeellll... after this executive decree was voted on, because those "lock" the day, that is, you gotta vote that before anything else.
I didn't manage to stay until the end. I was just too tired and had to wake up early for the continuation of the seminar as another deputy I need to speak with would likely be there at the very beginning. Oh, yeah, what's know as the "heart" of the house is pictured below. The Committee on Constitution, Justice, and Citizenship decides if matters before the house are constitutional or not and can move on. It's always crowded, busy, and loud. And fought over.