Brazil is long ways away from solving violence against women

. Nov 25, 2017
womens rights violence against women 2014 March to protest violence against women. Photo: Fernando Frazão/ABr
womens rights violence against women

2014 March to protest violence against women. Photo: Fernando Frazão/ABr

When Raphaella Noviski, 16, was killed earlier this month, police were at first reluctant to label her death as femicide. But the nature of the crime – she was shot eleven times in the face by a young man whose she had refused – led investigators to acknowledge gender as the case’s determining factor. “He tried to approach her, but she refused. With every refusal, he got angrier,” said Rafaela Azzi, one of the case’s police officers, while explaining to the Brazilian media how Noviski’s killer had planned her murder for a year. “After the police interview, it became clear that the situation was related to gender.”

Noviski’s tragic case, far from being an exception to the rule, is one of 131 femicides that occur every day in Brazil. Over a decade after passing its infamous Maria da Penha law, which was named after the woman who lobbied the justice system for two decades after her husband repeatedly tried to take her life and left her paraplegic, Brazil still has the world’s fifth highest level of femicide. Data from the 2015 Violence Map shows that femicide rates have barely decreased since the law was passed, merely keeping crime at a stable – and worryingly high – level.

<br /> Gender-based killings don’t happen in isolation, of course. The Maria da Penha Institute, a non-profit institution that is constantly tracking and producing data on the topic, has found that Brazilian women must cope with everything from street harassment to attempts on their lives at an alarming frequency. But as with most social issues in Brazil, the data is more complex than it seems: women of color are almost twice as likely to become victims of femicide than white women, and domestic violence remains far higher in poorer, <a href="">rural</a> areas than in Brazil’s cities. Meanwhile, a recent study showed that even in well-off parts of the country, rates of violence against women have <a href="">almost doubled</a> when compared to 2016.</p> <p>Meanwhile, Brazil’s current government demonstrates a refusal to recognize the issue. In May 2016, Temer assumed the presidency, bringing with him an all-white, all-male cabinet and doing away with the Minister for Women. On International Women’s Day this year, his comments relegated women to the position of domestic aides, further reinforcing sexist stereotypes and submissive gender roles.</p> <p>These attitudes prevail among elected representatives. On October 10, Brazil’s national day calling for the end of violence against women, politicians voted in favor of a change which would make it harder for women reporting domestic abuse to seek protection. The proposed amendment, requiring a judge’s mandate in place of police judgment to offer shelter to women deemed to be in danger, was vetoed by Temer at the last minute after pressure from women’s rights groups. However, the ease with which the amendment passed through Brazil’s political houses is demonstrative of dominant attitudes, hinting at the true scale of the problem.</p> <p><div class="infogram-embed" data-id="e9f31f21-8210-47e2-94f2-69a7ca4d8b0b" data-type="interactive"></div><script>!function(e,t,s,i){var n="InfogramEmbeds",o=e.getElementsByTagName("script"),d=o[0],r=/^http:/.test(e.location)?"http:":"https:";if(/^\/{2}/.test(i)&&(i=r+i),window[n]&&window[n].initialized)window[n].process&&window[n].process();else if(!e.getElementById(s)){var a=e.createElement("script");a.async=1,,a.src=i,d.parentNode.insertBefore(a,d)}}(document,0,"infogram-async","//");</script>

Ciara Long

Based in Rio de Janeiro, Ciara focuses on covering human rights, culture, and politics.

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