Rio renames airport after women's rights activist

RIO DE JANEIRO (AFP) - Rio de Janeiro's main airport said Tuesday (March 7) it will mark International Women's Day by temporarily changing its name in honour of a prominent activist against domestic violence, Maria da Penha.

The international airport currently named after Brazilian music icon Tom Jobim - although more commonly known as Rio Galeo - will get the new name for 10 days starting Wednesday (March 8), said spokeswoman Bianca Ferreira.

Also to join in the worldwide March 8 events highlighting women's rights, two Brazilian GOL Airline flights were being staffed entirely by female crew and pilots on Tuesday and Wednesday, Ferreira said.

Maria da Penha is a Brazilian biopharmacist who survived brutal abuse by her husband, including being shot and electrocuted. She fought for justice in the courts and in 2006 gave her name to legislation known as the Maria da Penha law, which targets domestic violence against women.

The temporary airport renaming aims "to stir discussion on questions related to women's rights by taking advantage of the impact that an airport can generate, thanks to the high number of people passing through the terminals every day," the airport said in a statement.

Brazil, one of the most violent countries in the world, is plagued by abuse of women.

A major study last year found that 4,757 women were murdered in 2014, up 11.6 per cent on a decade earlier. Physical harassment and assault are a common problem in public places, with one assault occurring every four minutes during Rio's recent carnival parties, according to police.