Revelers at a street party hold fans which read "Nao é Nao" or "No Means No"

Around the world, Brazil’s Carnival is synonymous with parties and, why not, a bit of flirting. However, in a country where 131 femicides occur every day, having safe fun and being respected as a woman is not that easy. Fortunately, this scenario may change in 2019’s Carnival, when sexual harassment will be considered a crime for the first time in Brazil.

Since September 2018, a new law has classified performing a libidinous act against someone, without their consent, as a criminal offense. Before this law, actions such as touching someone without authorization were considered misdemeanors and aggressors were often released after paying a fine. Now, they may be imprisoned for up to 5 years.

So far, many cases of harassment have been reported on public transportation and perpetrators have been arrested. In the Federal District, 53 cases were reported last year after the law was sanctioned, according to the Senate. But Carnival is being considered the greatest test for this new law.

Prevention and support

Besides the much needed legal support provided by law, the government, NGOs and even companies are putting together some initiatives to prevent sexual assault during the festivities.

The most recent one is a partnership between Google and Brazilian feminist NGO Think Olga. Through Google Assistant, a user justs need to say, in Portuguese “Ok, Google. Como reportar assédio sexual?” (Ok, Google. How do I report sexual harassment?) to obtain the numbers of the military police and women in violent situations support center—190 and 180, respectively. Google Assistant will also show Think Olga’s website for further information.

In São Paulo, the “lilac bus” will be on call some spots during Carnival providing women’s assistance. There will be psychologists, lawyers and social workers on board and available to help. Also, if they are able to identify their aggressors, they can warn the municipal guard and officers will detain him. The municipal government will gather data from the occurrences to create a database. Later, they aim to come up with actions to prevent the issue.

In Recife, the “Central do Carnaval” will also provide special support for women, as well as a phone number for assistance and volunteers circulating on the streets. They will provide information about how to prevent femicide. In Paraíba state, the government will exhibit an awareness campaign on TV, radio, and social media; 100 thousand fans carrying the campaign’s message will be distributed. Rio de Janeiro has also created its own awareness campaign and social workers have been alerting the population about the changes in the law.   

Salvador will also fight against LGBTphobia, a topic that has gained attention recently in Brazil after a Supreme Court trial to criminalize it. The capital of Bahia, which has one of the most famous Carnivals in Brazil, will have a center for the observatory against racism, LGBTphobia and violence against women, as well as six gazebos around the city. A total of 160 people will work to provide assistance and three specialized police stations will be available: one for LGBTphobia and racism cases, the other two for occurrences involving women.

harassment carnival brazil

If you need help…

See below how to find support and report harassment cases during Carnival:

Nationwide

  • Military police: 190

São Paulo

March 2 and 3:

  • The Lilac bus will be available at Praça da República from 3 pm to 8 pm

March 4 and 5:

  • The Lilac bus will be available at the cross between Av. Tiradentes and Rua Ribeiro de Lima from 3 pm to 8 pm

Salvador

  • Special police station for women: +55-71-3116-7000
  • WhatsApp number to report harassment: +55-71-98622-5494

Paraíba

  • Call to report harassment: 197
  • Call to report domestic violence: 190

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SocietyMar 04, 2019

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BY The Brazilian Report

We are an in-depth content platform about Brazil, made by Brazilians and destined to foreign audiences.