SAO PAULO – Under the slogan “Not Him” (Ele Nao), thousands of women across Brazil marched on Saturday to protest far-right leader Jair Bolsonaro, who is leading in polls ahead of the upcoming presidential elections and was released from hospital on Saturday three weeks after being stabbed.
On his first day out of the hospital, Bolsonaro responded to the women’s protest with characteristic statements, considered by many to be chauvinist, racist and homophobic, although the former military captain also received support in a number of events held by his sympathizers.
The Social Liberal Party candidate is leading the electoral race with 28 percent support in pre-poll surveys ahead of the elections on Oct. 7, but also evokes the highest amount of outright rejection compared to other candidates in the survey.
Around 46 percent of Brazilian voters said they would not vote for Bolsonaro under any circumstance, and this opposition grows to 52 percent among women, who are in a majority in the country’s electorate and generally the most indecisive about elections.
In recent weeks, the anger of a section of Brazilian women has spread to social networks, where the group Women United Against Bolsonaro gathered three million supporters. On Saturday they took to the streets in dozens of cities, including Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.
Lawyer Ana Luzia Marchiori, who participated in the march in Sao Paulo, told EFE she had seen Brazilian democracy go backwards and the protest was to affirm that people would not accept any reversal of democratic freedoms.
Camila Palmeira, 23, said she was there for the “greater good” against a candidate who was “homophobic, fascist and racist.”
The rising resistance to Bolsonaro among women, whose vote could be key during the elections, has been used by his opponents as a political weapon against the right-wing candidate, who has sought to tone down his discourse in recent months and insists that his statements have been misinterpreted.
Social Democrat Geraldo Alckmin, tied in third place with Labor’s Ciro Gomes, has during his campaign released videos in which Bolsonaro appears to insult women, including a journalist who he calls an idiot and lawmaker Maria do Rosario Nunes, who he called a “vagabunda” (roughly translated to “bum”) on television.
Bolsonaro, who represents the most conservative sections of the Brazilian society and has the biggest support among its richest sections, told Nunes she didn’t even deserve to be raped because she was too ugly.
The opposition to Bolsonaro has intensified in recent weeks, which is reflected in the opinion polls, and has also gained traction on social media, another stronghold of the former military officer.