Performance by Fernanda Falcão
Text by Fernanda Falcão e Cláudia Gomes
Translation by Danielle Cascaes
Fernanda Falcão wondered why a particular theme was so recurrent in her academic work. Perhaps it was because these past events were connected to the present? Or maybe it was a cry for help, a political stance?
Yes, it would be a scream of complaint!
The work was presented as the culmination of the Performance course, under the guidance of Professor Karine Jansen, in 2022, at the Theater Education degree at Escola de Teatro e Dança da UFPA (ETDUFPA), concerning the violence suffered by a black woman from the outskirts of Belém in the 1980s, the daughter of a white police officer father and a black laundrywoman mother.
Unfortunately, in 2022, 73.7% of women who experience violence in Brazil know their abuser (partners, husbands, brothers, stepfathers, neighbors, boyfriends, among others) (Souza, 2032).
The performance “Lelê: A Blind, Deaf and Mute Justice” was based on the life of a woman whose fate was shaped for a long time by cases of sexual abuse within her own family and by her direct abuser, her husband.
During the decade in which this woman suffered said abuses, there were no protective measures in the country to provide her with even a minimum of physical, sexual, psychological, and financial security. The Maria da Penha Law 11.340 was only approved in 2006, which, theoretically, “Creates mechanisms to combat domestic and family violence against women, in accordance with § 8 of Article 226 of the Federal Constitution, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and the Inter-American Convention to Prevent, Punish, and Eradicate Violence against Women; provides for the establishment of Domestic and Family Violence Courts; amends the Criminal Procedure Code, the Penal Code, and the Penitentiary Execution Law; and provides for other measures” (Brazil: Law 11.340, 2006).
The power of the performance was the immersion into a deep wound of violence against a woman, memories directly linked to the performer’s life.
And so, the performance took place in room number 4 at ETDUFPA. The door remained closed, and the audience had to enter in absolute silence. All the lights were off, and only the sounds of breathing could be heard, and body temperatures could be felt.
Fernanda calmly spoke… And, in the dark, we heard her!
After a few seconds (dramatic pause), an audio recording in Fernanda Falcão’s voice began, resembling the following (the lights remained off):
Then, the audio began.
The abuses suffered by the victim in the 1980s were concurrent with the lives of her three children, the result of her marriage to her abusive husband.
Many times, the victim was also sexually harassed by her father and paternal uncle when she was still a child, around the age of ten.
In her adolescence, she helped her mother take care of her seven siblings. Her life was surrounded by abuse from her family and the workplaces where she was frequently employed as a babysitter.
The victim’s life was marked by a historical succession of violence from men closest to her, the ones she loved most and had the greatest affection for at certain periods of her life (father, uncle and consequently husband).
At fifteen, the victim met the man who would later be her husband. He was seventeen years old, two years older than her, they had a relationship and only once, while having sexual intercourse, an unwanted pregnancy occurred.
Consequently, she became pregnant and had her worst days as a woman and teenager. Pregnant, at the age of fifteen, she was kicked out of her house.
An aunt offered the teen a job and shelter in the state of Rio de Janeiro – Brazil, where she stayed until her son was born. After the birth of the child, the victim returned to the state of Pará and begun a life together with the father of her child.
Over time, the victim begun to suffer continuous violence. The first there were pushes and then more intense aggressions and insults, including towards family members. The first child spent most of his time with his paternal grandmother. The father took him whenever he could as a way of depriving her of being by her son’s side. Two years after a second unwanted pregnancy (this time a girl), the fights, pushing and verbal attacks only intensified every day, no longer worrying about the presence of their children.
She found herself needing to work to support her children, but her attacker prohibited her from any form of work. Through friends and family, she managed to leave home to support herself, she took her second daughter to work and spent most of the days at a beauty salon in the center of Belém, but the nightmare was just beginning.
Several times, her husband accompanied her to work and picked her up as a way of keeping an eye on her. As the days went by, the husband, not happy with his wife’s outings, decided to forbid her from going out, even to work, as he accused her of cheating on him.
The attacker decided to leave her at home in private prison. Without open windows and without visitors even from his own family. There was no end to the attacks, the attacker attacked her in front of her children and family without any concern about being punished.
After two years, the victim had another pregnancy, for the third time, remembering that she had no power over her body, all abuse, including sexual abuse, became routine. Her husband used her in every way and as he saw fit. She lost her third child after being raped by her husband.
When the victim became pregnant for the fourth time, she wanted to end her marriage, but ending a relationship with three children, at that time, was not easy and not so normal in the eyes of society, even though there was support from friends and some family members. At the end of the eighties, the victim left home and went to live with her mother, where she had full support until she found a job and a house to stay.
The victim left everything behind, including the house she built with her oppressor. The persecutions did not cease. It took years to somehow get the woman to return to the house where they lived, but the victim was determined not to go back the troubled relationship that almost took her life and left her with deep scars on her soul and body.
The children were also victims of all this violence suffered for years. They witnessed, on several occasions, physical violence such as punches and kicks, threats with firearms, moral and psychological violence, among others. The mother was abused and raped for several years, without her sons and daughter being able to do anything to help her at that time. This mother also suffered property violence, where her right to stay in her own home with her sons and daughter was taken away.
And, at the end of the audio, Fernanda speaks in a firm, proud and measured tone!
“…The victim’s name is Lenise P. M., my mother, businesswoman, 61 years old, currently resides at the Ananindeua district, in the state of Pará. Lenise… My mother was never compensated for the loss of her home and the attacker never suffered any punishment for the acts of violence due to belonging to a state military body” (Fernanda Falcão, 2022).
Impunity, impunity, impunity… infinite impunity… silence!
The light turns on, and Fernanda Falcão remains untouched, wearing a white costume reminiscent of the archetype of the goddess Themis (daughter of Gaia and Uranus), a symbol of justice. She is adorned with symbols that represent justice: the scales symbolizing balance and the sword representing strength and power. She wears a blindfold over her eyes as a symbol of impartiality. In her mouth, she holds a flower, symbolizing apologies from the abuser (which were not few). The body is marked with signs of aggression through theatrical makeup, and there are bloodstains on her dress.
The performance conveys an image of a justice system torn and corrupted by a lack of commitment to the feminine. It portrays sexism, misogyny, and the impunity of a society that abuses and kills women. The scales in the performance contain photos of the victim with the aggressor and her children. The scenographic bruises spread across her body symbolize the beatings the woman endured for many years without the justice system being able to do anything for her or any women of that time.
The persistence of domestic violence is a human atrocity.
BRASIL. Lei nº 11.340, de 7 de agosto de 2006. Lei Maria da Penha. Diário Oficial da União, Brasília, DF, 8 ago. 2006. Disponível em: http://www.planalto.gov.br/ccivil_03/_ato2004-2006/2006/lei/l11340.htm. Acesso em: 19 ago. 2023.
HOOKS, Bell. Ensinando a transgredir: A educação como prática da liberdade (2013). São Paulo: Martins Fontes.
MENDIETA, Ana. Fuego De Tierra. 1987 | From the Vaults. Disponível em: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=py4Zzdc3AzA>. Acesso em: 9 mai. 2023.
SOUZA, Ludimila. Mais de 18 milhões de mulheres sofreram violência. Publicado em 02/03/2023 – 18:19 Por Ludmilla Souza – Repórter da Agência Brasil – São Paulo. Site: https://agenciabrasil.ebc.com.br/direitos-humanos/noticia/2023-03/mais-de-18-milhoes-de-mulheres-sofreram-violencia-em-2022. Acessado em 18 de abril de 2023.