Juliana Guarany, Brazil, Blog Correspondent
So this happened: I was enjoying Carnaval in São Paulo, following a nice bloco down the street when I saw him stop and force a girl to kiss him. She was uncomfortably laughing, in an attempt to get rid of him without spoiling the fun of the party. He grabbed her and kissed her for less than 30 seconds and then he was gone, and she was back with her friends, probably telling herself that this is normal during this time of the year and she should just let it go. I had the same reaction as her. It was too fast and I knew that, if I intervened, things could get uglier, so I didn’t do anything at that time even though it upset me.
French kisses during Carnaval are a tradition. Even singer Claudia Leitte wrote a song about it and broke the record of couples kissing at one of her concerts. Unfortunately, forced kisses are also very common. I have heard stories from friends being kissed against their will on micaretas (out-of-season Carnaval parties) since I was 15 years old. I also heard stories of men’s tactics, like this guy who used to take a tube of lança-perfume (an illegal mixture of ethyl chloride that gives a quick sense of euphoria, but can cause arrhythmia) and hold the girls, forcing them to inhale it until they passed out so he could kiss them. I guess every stupid action has its extreme.
Right before Carnaval started this year, a man was charged with seven years in prison for forcing a kiss on a girl in Salvador, Bahia, in 2008, which was considered rape. He was arrested at the scene and spent one year in jail before getting the right to appeal.
The main TV channel in the region used the story to give us a great “why we need feminism” moment when they released a poll for their Internet users, asking if “the forced kiss during Carnaval should be prohibited” (SEE PHOTO).
Unlike me and the bloco I saw, people on social media did not let this go. They even remembered the famous forced kiss after the end of World War II and the glamour behind a scene of violence (the girl says she hates that image.)
This year is no different from 30 years of Carnaval… forced kisses are common. But at least the debate about forced kisses and harassment in general is rising. Let’s hope next year brings us an even better party, in which we will not hesitate to intervene when a forced kiss happens in front of us.
Juliana is a fellow from Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and, together with Hamburg University, in Germany, is creating a digital campaign to connect all feminist initiatives around the globe. Read her blog Whistleblower and follow her on Twitter, @juguarany.Share on Facebook