Fifteen years on from landmark law, domestic violence continues to plague Brazil

The Maria da Penha Law provided crucial means to report abuse and protect victims from reprisals, but data shows domestic violence increased during the pandemic

domestic abuse violence "No means no," say women in Goiânia. Photo: Angela Macario/Shutterstock
“No means no,” say women in Goiânia. Photo: Angela Macario/Shutterstock

Most cases of violence against women, including homicide, are perpetrated by intimate partners or relatives of the victims. Indeed, women face the greatest danger in their own homes, as a 2018 report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime demonstrates. In Brazil, “simply reporting abusers to the police” is often held as the solution. But the reality is, Brazilian authorities have a poor record in protecting victims of domestic abuse, with little done to break the cycle of gender-based violence.

A female victim of domestic violence is 17 times more likely to later be murdered by...

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