How to expose violence and protect victims and witnesses?

In an atempt to do so, we have been researching initiatives implemented by activists and artists who deal with digital technologies and matters of security in the public space.

According to Transgender Europe's [1] project Trans Murder Monitoring [2], between the 1st of January of 2008 until the 30th of April of 2016 there have been 1654 reported cases of letal violence against trans people in Central and South America. Most of the cases were accounted in Brazil, a total of 845.

Since last year, when the most conservative set of politicians since 1964 took office in the brazilian Congress [4] [5], there has been 469 reported cases of homolesbotransphobic murder accounted by one particular LGBT NGO called Grupo Gay da Bahia.

GGB's initiative, called Quem a Homotransfobia Matou Hoje? [6], gathers information of such cases mainly from newspapers, same method adopted by Rede Trans do Brasil [7]. RTB's approach, though, is also about collecting data about suicides and assorted cases of human rights violations.

Over the past years, a few apps regarding gender-biased violence started being produced in Brazil. Some of them are running and being widely downloaded like Sai pra lá [8], used to register geographically cases of violence against women. Tem local? [9] works in a similar way, but within a wider range of non-heteronormative communities, since the user chooses among 12 options of sexual orientation and gender identity to specify the type of violence that took place in a certain location. Mona Migs [10], still not released to the public, intends to create a social network of vulnerable people and volunteers who would house them for a period of time.

Zach Blas, a north-american artist and queer activist, discusses deeply the implications of the neglect of governmental institutions to deal with gender, class and racial violence when it comes to digital technologies in the public space. We further discuss his work in an article [13] published in the Oficina Vigilância bulletin edited by Coding Rights.
[2] Transgender Europe.
[6] Quem a homotransfobia matou hoje?.
[4] 'Congresso eleito é o mais conservador desde 1964', by Estadão.
[3] Trans Murder Monitoring.
[8] Sai pra lá.
[9] Tem local?.
[10] Mona Migs.
[7] Rede Trans do Brasil.
PCB print for low-cost portable alarm device.

[5] 'What does the future hold for LGBT people in Brazil?', by plus55.
References and external links:

"My brother was stabbed 107 times. Seven stabs are enough to kill, why another hundred? What does the person want to kill by stabbing a dead corpse?"

Zé Celso, brazilian playwright, about the murder of his gay brother Luiz Antonio Martinez Corrêa, also a playwright, in 1987.

'estridente' means 'shrill' in portuguese, a high-pitched loud noise. The word is usually used to describe overly audible human voices, frequently associated to feminine-sounding people.

In this project, we wish to expose assaults against non-heteronormative people. For instance, we came up with a DIY portable sound device, powered by a 9V battery, that works as a kind of alarm. It can be used in a variety of ways which we'll discuss below.

Working with existing data.
[1] 'Brasil, país do transfeminicídio', by Berenice Bento.
It is our goal to expand the project into digital solutions such as the assemblage of GPS receivers, creation of apps or optimization of data collected by existent apps and reports, creating networks against psychological abuse, etc. .

This work was inspired by Berenice Bento's concept of 'transfeminicídio'[1]. The murdering of trans people in Brazil, the country with the highest rates of homolesbotransfobic violence according to a number of sources, is rarely taken seriously by the police or other governmental entities. Victim's families don't usually mourn the deaths of their children or relatives. Media coverage hardly causes commotion or even respect gender identities and other sorts of information regarding the victims. Moral violence and death threats are a regular part of the everyday lives of the majority of non-heteronormative people in Brazil.

It is our aim to make this kind of violence more audible.

How can gender-biased violence be exposed and augmented in the public space? If the police forces are not ones to count on, how can a more organized and empowered community react to violence? What are the informational vulnerabilities of the heterenormative system that neglects cases of violence in Brazil?

an electronic micro-hysteria project.
estridentes work as portable sound synthesizers made out of electronic components such as ICs 386 and 555, assorted resistors, capacitors, leds and 8Ω speakers. They reach up to 75dB (a store-bought whistle reaches 90 dB) of a high-pitched, temporized tone that quickly catches the attention of anyone passing by.

The project started as a way of breaking the silence of desert streets at night, places where happen most cases of transfemicide (tranfeminicídios). We have three usage suggestions:

1. As a personal "sound bomb", used to call attention to places where an episode of violence (like verbal os physical abuse, threats, etc.). Since we're talking about a low-cost DIY sound synthesizer, it can be thrown or placed in a strategic spot with no necessity of the user coming back for it.

2. A wearable alarm that could be sewn in jackets, purses or used as an accessory. This way the user calls dramatic attention to a situation she/he is living, saving her/his breath for other purposes.
3. Strategically located alarms in places like apartment windows, shop façades, etc., spots known by the community aimed at the public space. In this case, we could use the data from the apps mentioned above as a means of studying critical areas and how we could articulate the community. The way NGO Criola responded to racist comments made on the internet is an inspiration in this case [11], although we wish to find a solution more aligned open-source standards.

Since this device is a low-cost, easy to assemble project, the idea is that we make workshops to the public so people can have their own alarms and use them according to their wishes and necessities. We've been in touch with activists such as the team from Transgrupo Marcela Prado, in Curitiba, artists and people of the community who are interested in the project.

We wish to augment the project by investigating further ways that digital data could help us. For instance, we wish to assemble our own GPS receiver using a MAX2769 chip [12] or a similar component and study ways of hosting it online. Other two possibilities are a) to develop apps that indicate through notifications when a person is walking by a dangerous area and b) forming online networks to protect gender dissidents from psychological abuse.

'Tem Local?' interface showing cases of violence in Curitiba (PR).

[11] 'Posts racistas são transformados em outdoors de campanha em Porto Alegre', by ZH.
[12] MAX2769 chip.
[13] 'Vigilancia biométrica en las ciudades y Facial Weaponization Suite', by Tiago Rubini.
In his Facial Weaponization Suite project, Blas scrutinized biometric, corporate surveillance and matters of privacy through a queer perspective. He used data taken from queer faces to create masks that are undetectable by facial recognition interfaces, and this way strategically articulated social stigma to create a form of political resistance. This is an inspiration for us: to empower ourselves with our high-pitched voices, perceived as hysterical and hateful, to shake social and institutional violence against dissidents.

Ricardo Dominguez, founder of the Eletronic Disturbance Theater, says that "activists break the law, while artists change the conversation theatrically, by disturbing the law" [14]. He and his group came up with the Transborder Immigrant Tool, a low-cost mobile telephone used to make the crossing of the desertic border between Mexico and United States less lethal and dangerous for immigrants. The very existence of this device is a way of exposing the brutality of the xenophobic language applied by the United States' politics towards immigration.

estridente wishes to deal with violence in a similar level.

Below, we'll talk about some the practical solutions we've been working on so far.

[14] 'Poetry, Immigration and the FBI: the Transborder Immigrant Tool', by Hyperallergic.
Practical solutions.
Rio de Janeiro's Federal University (UFRJ) is facing a wave of ultraconservative violence, amongst primary infrastructure issues that affect the lives of students, teachers and employees.

On July 2nd, Diego Vieira Machado, an art student, was beaten to death at Ilha do Fundão campus. Diego was known for speaking his mind against homophobia and other political issues in the university.

On may 20th, several students who count on the university's housing facilities received a threatening e-mail from a so-called Juventude Revolucionária Liberal Brasileira.

Links and references:

'Ele comprou uma briga', afirma irmão de estudante morto na UFRJ, by G1.
Alunos dizem que casos de homofobia são frequentes na UFRJ, by Estadão.
Alunos denunciam grupos com discursosde ódio na UFRJ, by Estadão.