Noiva do Cordeiro in south east Brazil, located in a remote valley is home to hundreds of beautiful women, mainly aged between 20 and 35.
The town dates back to the 1890s, when a young woman and her family were ostracised from the Catholic church after she was accused of adultery. She had left the husband they forced her to marry.
Solidarity kicked in and more single women and mother-only families found the community as a secure refuge from male domination.
They rebuffed attempts by men to meddle with their lifestyle and consolidated their desire to live in a strictly female environment.
However, the need for men later forced them to relax the rules so that single members of the community can find a husband – life without a man is terrifying for a woman averagely.
They wanted the men but they don’t want their leadership
As time progressed, husbands of the married ones are forced to work away from home and can only return on weekends. Sons are sent away at the age of 18, and no other men are allowed to live full-time in the town.
One of the women confessed about the need for men: “We all dream of falling in love and getting married. But we like living here and don’t want to have to leave the town to find a husband. We’d like to get to know men who would leave their own lives and come to be a part of ours.”
The 23-year old Nelma Fernandes said the men need to agree to do what the women say and live according to our rules.
Maria Senhorinha de Lima who founded the town and the next five generations of her family were excommunicated by the Catholic church in 1891.
When her people rejected her, she and other women who subsequently went to live with them were vilified as whores, causing them to isolate themselves from the outside world.
In 1940, an evangelical pastor, Anisio Pereira, took one of the women, Delinah (16) – to be his wife, and founded a church in the growing community.
However, he proceeded to impose strict puritanical rules, banning them from drinking alcohol, listening to music, cutting their hair or using any type of contraceptive.
Anisio Pereira and Delinah
When Anisio died in 1995, the women decided never again to let a man rule – they regretted the leverage they gave the evangelist
Rosalee Fernandes (49), one of the residents who said they have God in their hearts but don’t think they need to go to church or get married in front of a priest. She said all these and baptising of their children by male priests are male-made rules.
She buttressed her point further: “There are lots of things that women do better than men. Our town is prettier, more organised, and far more harmonious than if men were in charge. When problems or disputes arise, we resolve them in a woman’s way, trying to find consensus rather than conflict.”
Another angle to the story is that there are no hierarchies, nor privileges. The central figure of the town is a modest old lady: Matriarch Delina. Homosexual love is also a norm and it’s accepted as heterosexual love.
They smoke, dance and celebrate with careless abandon. They banned religion seeking to live compassionately, without a priest – without prohibition or male dominance. This may be their reactions to the banishment the founder of the town suffered suffered from the Catholic church and the ‘extremism’ of the late evangelist who placed plenty restrictions on them.