BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) – Brazil's first female president insisted Tuesday that misogyny has played a role in the impeachment process against her, saying she is sure she would be treated differently if she were a man.
President Dilma Rousseff made the comments in the wake of Sunday's devastating 367-137 vote in the lower house of Congress to move forward with the impeachment proceedings.
"They've taken an attitude with me that they wouldn't take with a man," she said, adding, "I profoundly lament the level of prejudice against women."
Feminists criticized some of the speeches as sexist and noted that some legislators brandished signs reading "Ciao, dear."
Rousseff said at a news conference in the capital that she believed Brazil's deep-rooted culture of misogyny is "a strong component in this matter."
The president faces allegations of using illegal budget tactics to maintain government spending during a sharp economic recession. She says earlier governments used similar policies and calls the impeachment process a "coup" orchestrated by a powerful rival dogged by corruption accusations and bent on revenge.
If the Senate votes to accept the measure, Rousseff will be immediately suspended and Vice President Michel Temer will temporarily take over. The Senate will then have six months to rule whether to permanently remove Rousseff from office, in which case Temer would serve out her term though its 2018 conclusion.
The political crisis has heightened uncertainty in South America's largest country, which is in the throes of the worst recession in decades and has been shaken by near-daily revelations in a sprawling investigation of corruption at the state oil company Petrobras.
Many of the congressmen voting on impeachment themselves face corruption or other serious charges.
Rousseff acknowledged the disastrous economy had taken a toll on her popularity but placed part of the blame on factors beyond her control, including the slowdown in China, to the fall in commodity prices and a drought.
She said the impeachment drive was an "explicit act of revenge" for her party's failure to help House Speaker Eduardo Cunha avoid potential prosecution over corruption allegations. He has been charged with taking $5 million in bribes.
Temer and Senate chief Renan Calheiros have also been implicated in the Petrobras scheme.
Under the guidelines for impeachment, it will be at least 40 days until Rousseff's fate is decided. However, the speed of the process depends on Calheiros, who could potentially drag out any trial for months.