Violence against women and femicides in Brazil

On a Women's Right protest in Brazil, it reads, "Brazil 5º place on the femicide ranking"

In the last decades, women have been fighting for their rights and it's notorious how, in many aspects, they have conquered a lot of battles and managed to amplify their rights and gain a voice. But the differences still persist and when it comes to Brazil, the number of cases of violence against women is the most touching aspect regarding gender inequality. 

In 2019, 1.6 million of women were beaten or suffered strangulation attempt, while 22 million (37,1%) of brazilian women went through some kind of harassment. 42% of violence cases happened in the home environment and after suffering from any form of violence, 52% didn’t look for help or accused/filed a complaint against the aggressor, according to the NGO Brazilian Forum of Public Security. These statistics made the executive-director of the Forum, Samira Bueno, raise the question: is there any safe places in Brazil for women?

Last year, 3,739 women died, which is a 14,1% drop when compared to 2018 - but there was an increase of 7.3% when talking about femicides - hate crime motivated because of the gender. This means that 1.314 women were killed just because they were women - one case every 7 hours. 

Why do the numbers of homicide drop, but femicide increases?

Since March 9, 2015, the legislation provides for more serious penalties for homicides that fit the definition of femicide - that is, those that involve "domestic and family violence and/or disparagement or discrimination against women." The most common cases of these murders occur for reasons such as separation. After 2017, the Federal District started to adopt a protocol in which every case of women found dead, gone missing or apparent suicide would be treated as femicide until the investigations found out if it was a gender motivated crime - if not, it’d be considered as homicide or suicide.

To Samira Bueno and Juliana Martins, from the Brazilian Forum of Public Security, although the number of homicides against women dropped, analysis of gender-based indicators of violence indicates that domestic violence is increasing.


How does the president Jair Bolsonaro reacts to this worrying reality?
Who follows the political issues in Brazil knows that most of the population is religious, which is one of the reasons why Jair Bolsonaro won presidency - he is religious himself, and that gives him credibility among the population. Besides political and religious believes, the also conquered the votes by defending he’d make it easier to buy guns for self-defence - but there is alarm that this decision would make pervasive violence against women even worse and more deadly. The gun policy debate goes to the heart of divisions in Brazil as the country adapts to a new president. While many revile Bolsonaro for his expressions of misogyny and homophobia, his toughness on crime resonates with women panicked by what has become a violent crime epidemic. Many domestic violence survivors state that if their aggressors had a gun, they wouldn’t be alive. In communities where violence is already rife, the idea of introducing more weapons is widely seen as sheer madness. Women in such areas are disproportionately affected by gun violence, not just from drug trafficking gangs but also from military police during operations.

On a more recent note, the CoronaVirus world crisis has been a polemic political issue to the government of Jair Bolsonaro, who is defending that quarantine and isolation should be stopped, and people should be back to work. To sustain his belief that the issue is not that important and what matters it the economy of the country, he stated that if domestic violence numbers increase is because, in his own words, food is missing from people’s homes, and if men can’t provide for their families, women will pay the price. 
If the president himself doesn’t try to reduce the numbers of violence against women and femicide by implementing measures that could protect women and fight against gender inequality and only tries to stabilize the economy by going against WHO worldwide advices to fight the pandemic by using such an important subject as domestic violence as an excuse for his political ideologies, how can Brazil improve and battle against it? How many more women have to die until people understand the importance of fighting for gender equality and women Human Righs?

Article written by: Adriana Santos


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