Brazilian girls learn to break through taboos with photos and video

September 2003 -

By creating images of their living environments, girls think about the role patterns with which they grew up. That is the idea behind a new initiative. Why is a man at the sink such a strange thing? And a woman at the sink - is that normal or is that repression?


Mosca, chef of radiostation madame Satã

Girls from a slum in Rio de Janeiro learn the ins and outs of camera techniques and creating reports in series of workshops. Workshops for over twenty girls between the ages of 15 and 19 started at the end of August. It is a collaborative project by the Brazilian organisations CARABrasil and Espaço Feminino. This is the first time such a course has been given in Rio especially for girls.

Other subjects with which the participants are sent into the field are health and sexuality, for example. Anouk Piket is a co-founder of CARABrasil, along with Marcelus Pequeno. She is just back from the Netherlands where she was raising funds: ‘Most Brazilian girls know that they should use a condom when having sex, but the men don’t want it because the more children a man has, the more status he has. So the women are left behind with a baby, while the father moves on to the next girlfriend. The objective of the course is to make girls aware that they do not have to put up with such behaviour.’ At the end of December, after the course ends, the video material will be shown to other young people in the neighbourhood. The objective is to prompt discussions among them about subjects that are rarely discussed in the regular Brazilian media.

In addition to the photo and video course CARABrasil organises other audio-visual activities for young people in the neighbourhood together with local organisations. For example there is a radio program on the local station Madame Satã. In the photo is Mosca, a person who formerly lived on the streets, who is now the manager of the radio station. The point of departure is always to bring young people into contact with one another, to provide structure, and to work on their self-esteem. Anouk Piket: ‘The large newspapers and television stations continually portray these young people as drug dealers and criminals. This makes them feel inferior. We want to show the young people from the slums that they have the power to influence their own lives by giving them a basic knowledge of how to create media.’