Domestic Violence

Gender Violence Now a 'Public Matter' in Brazil

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Domestic violence incidences in Brazil have decreased slightly during the past decade, but a slight dip is not what advocates had in mind. A 2006 law defined domestic violence clearly, with unexpected consequences.

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Time and Will Needed

"The Maria da Penha Law established many changes, both in the definition of crimes and in judicial procedures," psychologist de Deus says. "However, just like all changes, time and will are needed in order to deconstruct something old and rooted in society."

Montenegro says the law has many positive aspects, including public policy implementation and the creation of courts specifically for women, but is weak in criminal and procedural law.

"Criminal law, in general, creates a false expectation to society," Montenegro says. "It sometimes works as a 'makeup' for certain situations that demand a much more comprehensive approach, including, for instance, economic and educational investments."

Criminal prosecutor de Barros says that the law has also made victims more afraid to denounce their aggressors because the punishment is more severe and they lack financial autonomy, love the perpetrators or fear raising the children alone. She says that complaints filed annually in the region where she works declined from around 4,000 before the law to around 2,000 after the law.

The state government and civil society organizations in Pernambuco are working to complement the federal law.

Cristina Buarque, Pernambuco's state secretary for women's policies, leads programs to tackle domestic violence from three fronts: health, law and education.

Curumim Group encourages women's political participation to promote gender equality, while the Papai Institute recruits men to achieve this aim.

University student Italo Ribeiro says his organization, React and Change, focuses on youth because they constitute the majority of perpetrators and victims of gender-based violence.

"It is necessary that women and men join their efforts for a reorganization of the principles that structure society," psychologist de Deus says. "This way, violence will not be anymore a resort for the maintenance of unequal power relations."

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ATTRIBUTION: Adapted from original content published by the Global Press Institute. Read the original article here. All shared content has been copyrighted by Global Press Institute.

Thais Moraes reports for Global Press Institute's Brazil News Desk. She covers human rights, justice and development issues.

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