Brazil, organizations on alert after rise in number of women killed

In 2019, at least 126 women have been murdered in the country

Published in 26/02/2019 - 18:21 By Agência Brasil* - Brasília

Brazil’s Minister of Women, Family, and Human Rights Damares Alves said the implementation of politics for the protection and defense of human rights is among the government’s priorities. “We will spare no efforts in addressing discrimination and violence against women, especially femicide and sexual harassment,” she said at a UN human rights council meeting held Monday (Feb. 25).

The increase in the number of femicide in the country is under not only the government’s scrutiny but also that of international associations, like the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). Early this month, the commission noted that at least 126 women have been killed in Brazil in 2019. Also registered were 67 attempted femicides—the murder of a woman motivated by their gender.

According to figures from a survey by the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (Uneclac), out of every ten femicides perpetrated in 23 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean in 2017, four took place in Brazil. In the same year, at least 2,795 women were killed in the region; of this total, 1,133 were in Brazil.

The 2018 Violence Atlas, put together by the Institute of Applied Economic Research (Ipea) and the Brazilian Public Security Forum, indicated a possible link between misogyny and racism, showing that the rate of murders that claimed the lives of black women went up 15.4 percent in the ten-year period ending in 2016. Altogether, the national average in the period stood at 4.5 killings for every 100 thousand women, with black women reported at 5.3 and non-black women 3.1.

Nadine Gasman, who represents the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) in Brazil, said education is the tool capable of reducing conflicts and promoting equality. “The acknowledgment of relations of power between men and women allows us to understand, for instance, why women are studying and working more and making less money. It’s a structural problem,” she argued.


Criminal lawyer Luiza Eluf, who took part in the debates for the drafting of the law that classifies femicide as a heinous crime, notes that the crime had to be defined in order to make clear why women are dying. “Car insurances have a discount for women because they don’t die while driving. They die in their homes, in relationships, after saying goodbye to a man, or when he thinks she’s seeing another man,” she said.

In her view, Brazilian men are convinced women are a possession. “We have to bring this calamity to light. Now we’re giving it a name, increasing the penalty for men who kill women for gender-related reasons. In addition to discouraging them, it lays out what it is. Committed murder? Why? Because he, as a man, believes himself to have control over the life and death of a woman,” she declared.

A survey by the National Justice Council (CNJ), released in March last year, showed the amount of cases with a femicide as their backdrop. IN 2017, 2,795 motions requested a sentence for an alleged femicide perpetrator, a proportion of eight new cases every day, or a rate of 2.7 cases for every 100 thousand women. In 2016, 2,904 similar cases had been opened.

*With information from reporter Letycia Bond

Translation: Fabrício Ferreira -  Edition: Carolina Pimentel / Luiza Damé

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