UN Women condemns sexism against Brazil's president

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff is accused of manipulating the country's accounts to mask the sinking state of the economy (AFP Photo/Andressa Anholete)

Brasília (AFP) - The United Nations office on women's rights in Brazil said Thursday that President Dilma Rousseff has been the victim of "sexist political violence" by opponents seeking to oust her.

Rousseff, Brazil's first woman president, is battling impeachment proceedings and mass protests calling for her departure.

The leftist leader's popularity has tumbled in the face of a recession and an explosive corruption scandal, but UN Women said underlying sexism is fueling the increasingly vitriolic movement against her.

"As a defender of women's and girls' rights around the world, UN Women condemns all forms of violence against women, including the political violence of a sexist nature directed against President Dilma Rousseff," Nadine Gasman, head of UN Women in Brazil, said in a statement.

"No political disagreement or protest can justify the trivialization of gender violence -- a patriarchical and misogynous practice that invalidates human dignity."

Gasman called on Rousseff's opponents to "safeguard democracy and the rule of law."

Rousseff, who took office in 2011, accuses her opponents of seeking to oust her in a "coup."

Some three million Brazilians took to the streets on March 13 calling for her departure.

The impeachment case against her revolves around accusations she manipulated the government's accounts to boost public spending during her 2014 re-election campaign and hide the magnitude of the recession last year.

Rousseff, 68, insists the practices were legal and widely used by her predecessors.

Pursuing a stronger case, some opponents are now seeking to impeach her on allegations of involvement in the corruption scandal rocking state oil company Petrobras.

Rousseff, who has not been charged in the case, vehemently denies involvement.