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  • Brazil is responsible for 40 per cent of all femicide cases in Latin America.

    Brazil is responsible for 40 per cent of all femicide cases in Latin America. | Photo: Reuters

Published 27 June 2018

A study on femicides in Brazil noted that “the volume of cases exceeds the justice system's capacity to prosecute perpetrators."

The perpetrators of 10,786 cases of femicide in Brazil have gone unpunished in 2017, according to the report titled “The Judiciary Branch in its Application of the Maria da Penha Law – 2018.” Organized by the National Council of Justice, or CNJ, the report detailed how Brazil is responsible for 40 percent of all femicide cases in Latin America and ranks seventh in the world, percentage-wise, in this type of crime.

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The study noted that “the volume of (murder) cases exceeds the justice system's capacity to prosecute those responsible for the crimes. The year of 2017 ended with 10.7 thousand unsolved femicide cases by the justice system.”

The study revealed that one of the biggest obstacles has been identifying the murder of women as being a femicide, or a gender crime committed specifically because the victim was a woman.

Femicide, interpreted as being the murder of a woman because of her gender, was identified as a criminal offense in the Brazilian justice system in 2015, according to Pragmatismo Politico.

Another detail highlighted by the report includes the elevated number of assaults committed against women in Brazil.

“In 2017 there were 1,448,716 cases related to domestic and family violence (against women) that were processed in state courts. It's, on average, equivalent to 13.8 cases for every 1,000 Brazilian women.”

The Maria da Penha law was sanctioned in 2006. It gave a legal definition to the crime of femicide—the killing of a woman by a man because of her gender—created specialized jurisdictions and a support network to protect women from gender violence and attempted to reduce violence against women by increasing sentences for the perpetrators of such crimes.

The law was named in honor of Maria da Penha, a pharmacist who was left paraplegic after her ex-husband, Marco Viveres, attempted to kill her on two separate occasions. In 1983, he shot her in the back while she slept. He told authorities that criminals, having invaded their home, were responsible for the shooting and was not prosecuted.

On another occasion, he attempted to electrocute his paraplegic wife while she took a bath. It was only after this second murder attempt that Viveres was investigated and it was ruled that he was responsible for trying to shoot and electrocute da Penha.


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