Listening to the Cry – Breaking the Silence

There are topics that no one likes to speak about. When an indigenous woman from the Arawa tribe, in the Amazon, leaves to give birth no one will go with her. This is a moment that is uniquely hers. She leaves on her own, even if she is very young and is having her first baby. She looks for a tree or bush that she can lean on; she crouches and then faces the pain. It is then, at the time of childbirth, that this young mother has the great responsibility of deciding the future of the child. She can only keep the baby, if he/she is perfect.

If for any reason, she returns home without the baby in her arms, silence falls. No one asks what happened. Not even the father of the child, or the grandparents, not even her best friend. The young mother lies down in her hammock, many times without courage or strength, even to cry. The matter ends right there. No one asks why she returned without her baby. The mother will have to deal on her own, in silence, for the rest of her life, with the memory of this curse, this bad luck, and this unhappiness. Sometimes, you can hear in the distance, the muffled cries of the child, abandoned to die in the forest. The crying only stops when the child loses consciousness or when some wild animal devours him. Or when some relative, annoyed by the persistent crying, decides to silence it with an arrow or a club. After this, there is total silence.

Infanticide is taboo. Just as the subject is avoided in indigenous societies, it is also avoided in our society. No one talks about it, no one confronts it, and no one takes a stand against it. The most comfortable position is one of omission – omission, many times disguised as respect for cultural difference.

We are living in times of changing attitudes. Some indigenous women decided to speak out against this issue that is so controversial and at the same time so painful for them. Starting with the initiative of these women, the taboo began to be broken and the Brazilian national media has generated various reports on the issue (Consulex Magazine – October 2005, Brazilian Problems Magazine, from the SESC/SP (Social Service for Commerce – São Paulo) – May-June 2007, Cláudia Magazine – July 2007, Veja Magazine – August 2007, FOLHA DE SÃO PAULO – April 2008, among others). Our society needs to stop talking for a moment to hear these voices. The numbers are very alarming.

THIS SITE approaches infanticide in the Brazilian Indigenosu tribes, starting with the testimonies of the indigenous people themselves. It gathers reports from relatives of victims, to aggressors and survivors, along with the views of anthropologists, lawyers, religious workers, activists fighting for the rights of the indigenous peoples and teachers. We hope that this site provides sufficient information for you, at least, to make an important decision. The decision to take this discussion further – to listen, discuss, reflect, with impartiality and to enable the indigenous tribes to solve the conflicts that cause infanticide. That, at least for a while, we may silence our ideologies and passions and listen with empathy to the voice of women who are tired of facing this pain alone. That we may take a responsible decision to break the silence on infanticide.

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© 2008 Hakani - All Rights Reserved