terça-feira, 1 de abril de 2014

Translating Rodrigo Constantino

Translation errors are mine and mine alone.
In my defense I can only say the original in Portuguese is, in my opinion, only a tad better, that I am not a translator by trade and that I have a day job that doesn't leave me a lot of time for this.

I just had to share this, startling as it is.

This is my English translation for a blog article from Brazilian weekly Veja:


Are half-naked women to blame for being raped? No, but...

A poll by research institute Ipea that appeared on "O Globo" newspaper today shows that many Brazilians believe women "deserve" to be raped when they exhibit "bad" behavior, wear short clothes etc. Those are startling results, which denote our civilizational backwardness. The news report says:

"There would be less rape if women behaved". After reading that statement in a questionnaire from Ipea (Applied Economics Research Institute from Brazil), 58.5% of the 3 810 poll respondents agreed completely or partially agreed with it. The data appear in a study called "Social Tolerance to Violence Against Women" (TN: "tolerância social e  violência contra as mulheres" in the original), made by the institute's "System of Social Awareness Indicators" and made public last Thursday.

With data collected between May and June of 2013, the study also shows that, to 42.7% of poll respondents, women with revealing clothes deserve to be attacked. Moreover, 63% agreed, totally or partially, that "cases of home violence should only be discussed with family members". Still, 89% agreed that "dirty laundry should stay in the home" and 82% agreed that "you shouldn't mess with husband and wife fights" (TN: those are old popular sayings in Brazil).

Brazil still has a lot to evolve. At least the vast majority believe husbands who beat their wives should go to jail, which is mildly comforting. But the mentality by which the blame for the rape falls into the victim is shocking, absurd. It is an analogue to the one by which the rich are to blame for being kidnapped or robbed, as if inequality itself gave thieves the right to steal.

Having said that, and making it clear that nothing justifies rape or robbery, we can be realists and understand that, if opportunity doesn't make the thief, it can at least stimulate them. Consider: Sakamoto (TN: Brazilian left-wing blogger) looks ridiculous when he blames the car owner for the carjacking, appealing to left-wing sensationalism, but I wouldn't parade with a Porsche (that I unfortunately don't have) in the streets of Rocinha (TN: large and well known favela in Rio).

When TV host Luciano Huck had his Rolex stolen, many in the left used the same argument: who told you you can be ostentatious in a poor country? A ridiculous argument, like Sakamoto's, and all those who blame the young woman victim of rape (TN: that's a reference to a current event, and a specific young woman), because of her revealing garments. But I wouldn't wear a golden Rolex that I (unfortunately) don't have in the Maré favela. 

What do I mean by all that? That no one has the right to rape or to steal, that no one "deserves" to be victims, and that victims cannot be made culpable of the crimes they suffered; but, having made that important remark, it is important to keep the realism and understand that, despite all that, we shouldn't give bad luck a chance.

There are studies and polls, as I've previously commented, showing a correlation between the Sexual Revolution and a higher number of rape cases. That isn't a Brazilian phenomenon, but a worldwide one. The ever more precocious sexualization, the funk music that stimulates vulgarity, provocative women wiggling half naked to the ground, all that attract rapists like flies in a honey pot. 

To recognize such truism isn't the same as blaming women for being raped. Of course not. It is just realist to the point to state that, given the pre-civilizational environment we live in, all those things stimulate crime like parading with a Rolex in a favela in Rio would (unless you're mistaken for a drug lord).

I will say something even more shocking to the reader: Brazil isn't Switzerland. Some degree of adaptation because we live in the country of "scoundrels" (TN "malandros" in the original), who created a country of suckers, must exist. I support harsher punishment to criminals as the main instrument to curb crime, be it robbery or rape. But denying the "cultural" influence is impossible. (TN I don't think the last few phrases in the original make grammatical sense, so I am doing my best here)

What is the solution? To have women wear burkas? God rid us from the Islamist curse! It would be just like preaching the Sakamoto solution to fight crime: to abandon our material possessions (even though he clings to his Apple MacBook, because nobody's perfect). It would be the victory of criminals. 

That doesn't prevent us nonetheless from attesting that growing licentiousness and debauchery have contributed like a stimulant to potential perverts. Add to that our sexist culture and the impunity climate, and we have the perfect recipe for a catastrophe.

Meanwhile the machoism culture doesn't go disappear and exemplary punishment doesn't arrive, it would be recommendable, indeed, that young women presented themselves a little bit more cautiously, displayed a tad more of modesty, and preserved slightly better the private parts of their silicone-augmented bodies. I have no doubt that "upright girls" are at less risk of sexual abuse.

I will resort to reductio ad absurdum in the hopes of making my point even clearer: does the woman who goes to a construction site at the end of a shift, and starts wiggling to the ground to the sound of "na boquinha da garrafa" (T.N. Brazilian song filled with sexual double entendres), believe she exerts any influence in the risk of loss of sexual control by some potential pervert or not?

Back to my analogy, and to close the argument, I wouldn't have a banquet in front of a legion of the hungry. And I am sure that my left wing colleagues wouldn't too. That is so true that they're used to taste their caviar with champagne isolated in their mansions or penthouses, away from the prying eyes of those they swear to defend...

P.S.: now, like journalist José Maria reminded, me, why the hell does an "applied economic research" institute need to run such a highly subjective poll, the response to which can vary wildly depending on how the question is made? It looks like a social conflict inducer, typical of the PT (T.N. the party of the President of Brazil) government, that adopts "divide to conquer" as its motto.

I am sorry you had to go through this.

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