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"A LIFE FREE OF VIOLENCE: IT’S OUR RIGHT"

"UNA VIDA SIN VIOLENCIA ES UN DERECHO NUESTRO"

"UMA VIDA SEM VIOLENCIA E UM DIREITO NOSSO               
"UNE VIE SANS VIOLENCE C'EST NOTRE DROIT"


UNITED NATIONS INTER-AGENCY CAMPAIGN

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BRAZIL

Consultant

Mrs. Leila de Andrade Linhares, lawyer and director of the NGO "CEPIA" (Citizenship, Study, Research and Action).

Coverage

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:

A national survey made in 1988 by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics, in a supplement on justice and victimization, stated that "of all victims subjected to physical aggression (bodily injury), around 44.77% were women. The greatest differences between female and male victims in this type of crime have to do with the author and where the aggression occurs. In the case of women, 63% of assaults were made by family members or people they knew, most often by men within the affective circle of the victim. For men, 83% of aggressions occurred in the street, mostly by people they knew or strangers, and just 17% took place in their home."

Other data from a 1991 study made by the Congressional Investigative Commission on violence against women complements information on this point in the report from Brazil.

Data from the Congressional Investigative Commission on Violence Against Women

1991-1992

Type of crime committed against women

Percentage of all crime committed against women

bodily injury

26.2%

threats

14.4%

rape

1.8%

murder

0.5%

other

60%

To shed more light on homicide in Brazil, in 1998 the nongovernmental organization, "Movimiento Nacional de Derechos Humanos," carried out a study in which it tracked cases in 17 states that were reported by the press.

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.

Table VII

Homicide Victims in Brazil By Sex

YEAR

VICTIMS

 
 

MEN

WOMEN

1995

90.2%

9.8%

1996

89.8%

10.2%

 

Table VIII

Relationship Between the Homicide Victim and the Accused

YEAR

FAMILY RELATIONSHIP OR FRIEND OF THE ACCUSED

 

WOMEN VICTIMS

MEN VICTIMS

1995

66.04%

35.60%

1996

72.28%

39.34%

 

Table IX

Prior Assaults, According to the Type of Victim-Aggressor Relationship

Prior Assaults

Relative, Neighbor, Other

Husband, Companion or Ex

Total

Yes

31

230

261

No

41

62

103

Total

72

292

364

 

Source: Sores, Luiz Edo. Soares, Barbara M., and Carneiro, Leandro 1996

This table confirms data from Women's Delegations in Rio de Janeiro, 1992, regarding reoccurrence of aggression toward women in proportion to the intimacy of their relationship with aggressors.

"We feel that domestic violence is extrapolated outside of the home, since many women are victimized by their husbands in the street or workplace, and girls can be sexually abused by their fathers at a distance from the home. In this sense, the word "domestic" characterizes a crime by a person who can intimidate the person by virtue of a family or authority relationship, and is not necessarily indicative of where the crime took place."

Other statistical data on violence against women include the following:

Statistical Data on Violence Against Women 1998

State

Painful Bodily Injury

Rape

Threats Total

Rio de Janeiro

31,206

884

17,189 49,279

Sao Paulo

27,546

947

17,819 46,312

Rio Grande do Sul Porto Alegre

1,194

32

1,222 2,448

Total

59,948

1,563

36,230 98,039

"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."

With respect to violence against girls, the report emphasizes that

"according to data from the Regional Center for the Attention of Childhood Mistreatment, in 1992 physical aggression represented 48% of the crimes committed against children, of whom 58% were girls;"

"a study by UNICEF in 1996 revealed that …'of 1,000 sexual assaults against minors in Sao Paulo between 1988 and 1993 which were filed with SOS Niño, more than 75% were committed by relatives, in the following order: biological father, brother, stepfather and uncle. Eight percent of the victims were subjected to this type of violence before reaching the age of three.' 

"In this same study, UNICEF stated that according to SOS Niño, in Sao Paulo, more than 50% of all claims of sexual abuse in 1993 named the father as the abuser. Another investigation, by the Regional Center for the Attention of Childhood Mistreatment, Sao Paula, identified sexual abuse in 10% of the cases occurring between July 1992 and December 1994. Of all proven cases, 77% of the assaults took place in the home. The majority of reports (72%) were filed by mothers; 69.5% of the victims were females and 30.5% males. The largest concentration of victims were 3 to 6 years old (34.5%) and 7 to 10 years old (48%). In other words, girls ranging from 3 to 10 years of age represented 85% of the victims."

Legislation

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."

Government Response

To combat the different manifestations of gender-based violence, the Brazilian government has created the following instruments:

Executive Federal Power

National Program for the Prevention and Combat of Domestic and Sexual Violence, under the National Council of Women's Rights, Ministry of Justice

Platform of Strategies for Equality prepared by the National Council of Women's Rights

State and Municipal Executive Power

Delegations for the Defense of women (255), an adjunct of local police

Services for the Attention of women, Public Defense. State of Ceará

Women's Attention Units, Public Defense, State of Rio de Janeiro

Regional Centers of Attention to Childhood Mistreatment, State of Sao Paulo

Crisis line to report cases concerning sexual exploitation of children and youth, Delegation for Customs and Public Spectacles, Federal District

Shelters for battered women (Porto Alegre, Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro)

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.

Services

The report identifies support services for women victims of domestic and sexual violence in six of Brazil's states:

141 Women's delegations

7 Temporary shelters

7 Centers for legal counseling

6 Centers for psychological counseling

7 Legal abortion services

6 Support units or women's centers

11 Programs to combat violence against women

6 State Councils on the Rights of Women


 

UNDP Against Violence Home Page

For more information, please contact Aparna Mehrotra, Focal Point for Women, Tel: (212)963-6828 Fax: (212) 963-9545, e-mail: mehrotra@un.org

Management and direction: Aparna Mehrotra
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: Lola Salas
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