A semi-naked woman in a sequined Carnival costume. A veiled woman with only her eyes showing in a niqab. Two stereotypes of two vastly different regions — Latin America and the Middle East.
On the surface, these two images couldn’t be more diametrically opposed. What could the two have in common, right? What a woman wears — or what she doesn’t wear, in Brazil’s case — is often interpreted as a sign of her emancipation. The veil, for many, is a symbol of female oppression; the right to wear a bikini, one of liberation.
As a woman and a foreigner who lived in Baghdad and Cairo and worked throughout the Middle East for years, I always felt the need to dress modestly and respectfully. Frankly, my recent move back to Latin America was initially a relief. Brazil is the land where less is more — and it was wonderful to put on whatever I wanted.
But underneath the sartorial differences, the Middle East and Latin America’s most famously immodest country both impose their own burdens on women in the way they are treated and perceived.
And that’s the thing about Brazil: It has a female president, and women are well-represented in the work force. This isn’t Saudi Arabia, where women cannot drive, or Afghanistan under the Taliban, where women could not study.
And yet it is one of the most dangerous countries to be female in.
Statistics show that about every two hours a woman is murdered in Brazil, a country with the seventh highest rate of violence against women in the world.
Interesting and relevant to women (and men) in Belize.