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.