Public Policies And Infanticide

A Clarification on ATINI’s Mission


ATINI – A Voice for Life, was created in 2006, with the intention of giving a voice to the indigenous people who do not agree with the practice of infanticide in their communities of origin. It was from the clamor of these natives, considered “deviant” by their ethnic group, that ATINI was constituted. The objective, then, was to offer help to these natives who did not agree with the practice of infanticide, be it an exception or not.
In this sense, ATINI does not stand as a voice that asks Brazilian law for the punishment or criminalization of indigenous groups that systematically or non-systematically practice infanticide, since it understands that the laws of Brazilian society cannot be applied indiscriminately to ethnic groups which are part of the national territory, but that have autonomy in social organization and have an extremely different view of the world. In accordance with its stated mission, ATINI gives a voice to and welcomes the natives who ask for help to save the children with whom they have some degree of kinship from infanticide.

The lack of public policies aimed at meeting the needs of indigenous peoples, whether in the field of healthcare or in terms of taking in those who do not want to submit to the laws of the majority, as in any society, has led the indigenous “deviants” to seek help from non-governmental organizations, such as ATINI. In this sense, ATINI does not pretend to have any kind of expertise on the subject, but is committed to WELCOME IN and GIVE VOICE to the natives who ask for help so that their children are not subjected to infanticide, and FIGHT for the Brazilian State to offer what is needed so that they can, as they should be committed to doing, meet the requests of these Indians.

It is known that in any society, in any culture, there are violations and even in terms of cultural practices accepted by the majority, as is the case of ablation or extirpation of the clitoris of girls between 8 and 12 years of age, in some societies, there are those who do not agree with them and do not wish to submit to what they consider to be something that needs to be changed in their societies. Is there anything wrong with disagreeing with this practice? Is there anything wrong with asking the State to take in these children and their relatives who disagree with this practice? Should the organizations hosting these children and these “deviant” individuals be prosecuted and proscribed? Is this not what the Universal Declaration of Human Rights rightly refers to?

These individuals, like any others in the same structural situation of other societies, also have the right not to submit to collective rules which they consider to be a source of suffering and arbitrariness, which in fact exist in every society. Moreover, they have the right to be guaranteed choice, through public policies.

Another example, closer to home, is one involving chauvinism, one of the cultural traits of various societies, including Latin American ones, which has produced very serious acts of violence against women. Although the community does not approve this and there are laws that point to the criminalization of those who practice these acts, it is known that there is a certain complacency and even omission on the part of society, including by many women who submit, for various reasons, to this violence, often classified as “normal”. This does not mean, however, that this violence should not be combated by all, especially by the State, not only by laws, but by public policies that protect women and enable them to live a different way of life.

If infanticide is not a cultural practice or a traditional practice, as some argue, if it is just a marginal situation, which is not part of the social rules, those who ask for help when affected by it or by the threat of it need to be assisted, preferably by the State.

ATINI understands that indigenous peoples do not need intrusive or punitive state laws. But this organization does, on the other hand, support any governmental initiative, inside or outside the legislative framework, which guarantees indigenous peoples access to public policies. The criminalization of infanticide is therefore not ATINI’s flag to fly. This organization recognizes and respects the cultural diversity in Brazil. ATINI states that indigenous people need public policies that, among other things, ensure that, whether they “dissent” from the majority or not, they have the guaranteed right not to agree, and to change. In fact, all societies are dynamic from a cultural point of view. It is no different in indigenous societies.

ATINI’s banner is simply a commitment to attend and give voice to the Indians, whether they are considered “deviants” or not, who ask for help to free their children or grandchildren from infanticide and this must be taken into account, not only by the State, but by the associations of scholars and researchers renowned for their studies and research in the fields of social sciences and human rights.

Brasília, 11th of August, 2009.

ATINI Deliberative Board