Mrs. Leila de Andrade Linhares, lawyer and director of the NGO "CEPIA" (Citizenship, Study, Research and Action).
Given Brazil's geographical dimensions, population and ethnic diversity, and the limited amount of time available to prepare this report, it covers only the states of Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Rio Grande do Sul, Minas Gerais, Distrito Federal and Pernambuco. These states are representative of the southern, southeastern, central-eastern and northeast of Brazil, and are considered of great national importance due to the size of their populations and their political influence, the presence of the women's movement and greater or lesser degree of impunity in relation to violence towards women.
Occurrence and Prevalence
Major features of gender-based violence in its different manifestations are invisibility and under-reporting. Outside of everyday experience, anyone interested in identifying the magnitude and impact of this problem will find little or no information available, or come up against information that is dispersed, broken up and impossible to homologize.
One of the objectives of this project was the systematization of available information on gender-based violence in participating countries. Some of the findings for Brazil include the following:
Data from the Congressional Investigative Commission on Violence Against Women
Tables VII, VIII and IX reveal important information from this investigation, indicating among other things that men are the greatest victims of homicide. However, violence was almost equally distributed between men and women in terms of bodily injury. It is also noteworthy that the number of women victimized at an early age is much higher than for men. This confirms data from the Brazilian Institute of Geography showing that women more than men are victims of violence within the family.
Homicide Victims in Brazil By Sex
"The statistical information in police records of violence against women does not necessarily indicate that one state has higher indices of violence than another. States whose reporting is more systematic will also have more reliable information, and as a consequence will show higher percentages of violence against women. There is also a great deal of disparity with regard to public security services…In this sense, all available statistical information should be viewed in context."
There is no type of crime denominated as "gender-based violence" in national criminal legislation. Nevertheless, violence occurring within the sphere of family relations has a long tradition in Brazilian law. Although the current Penal Code, in effect since 1940, reflects many prejudices against women, it is noteworthy that in article 61, the part related to aggravating circumstances in the sanction of crimes establishes more severe punishment for crimes committed against ascendant and descendent relatives, brothers or spouses (section II, item e). It also considers it an abuse of authority to take advantage of domestic relations, cohabitation or hospitality (section II, item f) to the detriment of children, the ill and/or pregnant women (section II, item h). (informal translation)
This same Code, in the part referring to crimes against custom, where sexual crimes (including rape) are classified (article 226, section II), increases the duration of the sentence by one-fourth if the offender is ascendant, adoptive parent, stepfather, brother, tutor or healer, guardian, or person who maintains any other type of relationship of authority over the victim. The Penal Code also serves as legal recourse for processing and sanctioning any other type of violence practiced, including violence against women by reason of sex.
Brazil's current Federal Constitution (1988), reinforcing the provisions of the Penal Code and recognizing the existence of violence within the family, incorporated a paragraph in chapter 226 in reference to the family, declaring that "the State shall ensure assistance for each member of the family, creating mechanisms to impede violence within the sphere of their relations."
To combat the different manifestations of gender-based violence, the Brazilian government has created the following instruments:
Executive Federal Power
State and Municipal Executive Power
Response by Civil Society
Historically the diverse institutions of civil society, and particularly NGOs and autonomous women's groups, have maintained a commitment to defend human rights in general, and women's human rights in particular.
There is a broad range of organizations of this type in the country.
Brazil's civil society, especially the organized women's movement, is considered to have played a fundamental role in the promotion of public policy in this area and in the development and advancement of legal norms. This sector has also been involved in the training and education of government officials and private organizations, and in launching mass campaigns of sensitization and education for the general population, as well as working with the State and in joint implementation of government programs for attending affected persons.
The report identifies support services for women victims of domestic and sexual violence in six of Brazil's states: