In 2020, Brazil officially registered the death of 1,338 women due to their gender condition, murders committed mostly by partners, ex-partners or would-be partners, such as the one that last Wednesday (2) stabbed a nursing student to death Vitórya Melissa Mota, 22, in the food court of a shopping center in Niterói (RJ).
Consolidated data from last year, which had 10 of its 12 months under the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic, were collected by leaf in the Public Security secretariats of the 26 states and the Federal District.
Compared to 2019, there was an increase of 2%, but violence against women grew at more alarming levels in the Midwest (14%) and in the North (37%). Northeast (+3) and Southeast (-3) presented small variations. In the South, there was a drop of 14%.
The numbers show that violence against women has been on an upward trajectory — femicide grew 8% from 2018 to 2019, according to updated data — despite the tightening of legislation in recent years.
And the scenario could be even worse, since there is no standardization in the collection, analysis and dissemination of information by some states.
Ceará, governor of Camilo Santana (PT), is an example. The state does not discriminate in its public crime statistics for femicide. In reply to leaf, the Public Security Secretariat said it registered only 27 cases in 2020, which would place the state as the one with the lowest incidence of crime in the country, in relation to the size of the population.
However, the Security Observatory Network, which brings together academic and civil society bodies from five states, identified 47 cases of femicide in Ceará in 2020, almost double what state authorities report.
A dossier prepared by the Cearense Women’s Forum and by the Brazilian Women’s Articulation states that in 2018 the state recorded only 5.6% of the murders of women as femicide, data that “goes against all studies on the homicide of women”.
The Secretariat of Public Security of Ceará stated that the reason why it differs from most other states, which publicly disclose this information, is related to the protection of sensitive personal data. Regarding the discrepancy in records, he stated that the classification of femicide belongs, based on technical criteria, to the Civil Police chief investigating the murder.
Of the 13 states that registered an increase in violence against women in 2020, 12 are in the North, Midwest or Northeast. Only Minas Gerais (up 4%) is out of this group.
Of the states that historically have a large number of femicide, Mato Grosso, governed by Mauro Mendes (DEM), had a significant increase in 2020, 59%. It is also where, in proportion to its population, more women are killed because of their gender condition.
In a statement, the State Public Security Secretariat said it believes that social isolation is one of the explanations for the worsening of the situation, in addition to cultural change and the training of police officers to classify crimes as femicide. The agency also says that there was a drop in this type of crime in the first months of 2021.
Regarding preventive and combat actions, the department stated that it has a chamber made up of various government and civil society entities, as well as a Military Police team trained to monitor women at risk (the Maria da Penha patrols) and WhatsApp services in police stations specialized in the defense of women for complaints and psychological assistance —in Cuiabá, (65) 99966-0611; in Várzea Grande, (65) 98408-7445, and in Rondonópolis, (66) 99937-5462.
Among the federation units where there was a reduction in registrations, the highlight was the Federal District (-47%), Rio Grande do Norte (-38) and Sergipe (-33%). In relation to population size, Ceará (with the exception described above) and Rio Grande do Norte were the ones that had, in 2020, the lowest rate of dead women per 100,000 inhabitants.
In early 2020, the then Minister of Justice, Sergio Moro, even signaled that there would be the implementation of a national system for the consolidation and dissemination of femicide statistics.
Moro was fired in April of that year. Until today, the government does not have this system. In the national program for disclosing crime statistics, the Sinesp (National Public Security Information System), women killed because of their gender condition are included in the general calculation of intentional homicides.
The ministry said, through the press office, that due to the lack of standardization among the states for the classification of femicide, the ministry created a project called Digital Portal, which is under development “for the formatting of a single, uniform and reliable tool for data on violence against women, including femicide”.
The ministry also said that it sent to the states a national protocol of investigation and expertise in femicide crimes.
Experts heard by leaf they advocate, among other points, a robust and continued action to address gender issues in schools and the improvement of the information collection system.
They also stated that there were indications of increased risk to women in the pandemic, in addition to the likely negative impact of policies to loosen the rules on arms and ammunition control sponsored by President Jair Bolsonaro.
“There are many signs and studies in other countries that point to the worsening of violence against women in crisis situations, as it has been in the pandemic”, says Aline Yamamoto, a specialist in Preventing and Combating Violence against Women at UN Women Brazil.
Regarding weapons, she says a more categorical analysis is possible. “Having a gun leads to a much higher probability of having a murder victim at home, who are usually women and children.”
She defends prevention as a priority measure, in a change in behavior that will only occur through the correct approach to the causes of violence in schools, through the effective punishment of aggressors and the education of society and authorities in the sense that episodes in which the victims are the ones who end up being “judged”.
Machista practice still common in some courts, the attempt to turn the victim into the guilty may have as the greatest classic example, in Brazil, the case of Angela Diniz, murdered in 1976 with four shots in the head by her partner, playboy Doca Street.
The case was recounted last year in the podcast “Praia dos Ossos”, a production by Rádio Novelo.
The criminal’s defense tried to support the thesis that he should be acquitted for having acted “in legitimate defense of honor”, since the woman was a “lascivious venus” fueled by cocaine, alcohol and “abnormal” relationships with many men.
In the first trial, in 1979, Doca Street was sentenced to a mild two years, served in freedom. Pressure from feminism activists changed his fortunes, and in 1981, in a new trial, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Angela Diniz’s killer, however, served three years in a closed regime, two in semi-open and ten on parole. He died in December 2020, aged 86, after suffering a heart attack.
Alice Bianchini, vice president of the National Commission for Women Lawyers of the Brazilian Bar Association, says that equality between men and women is a factor in reducing violence and defends the prioritization of actions aimed at children and adolescents.
“Today the situation is a reflection of this lack of public policies to discuss gender issues within schools”, he says. Bianchini suggests that awareness campaigns involve men, noting that one of the points not implemented in the Maria da Penha Law (from 2006) is the creation of education and rehabilitation centers for aggressors.
“The campaigns we have are: women who suffer violence, report them. But 62% are afraid to report for fear of revenge on the part of the aggressor. A speech that I think is important is: if you know a man who practices violence with women, talk with this man’s family, they need to know what’s going on.”
For her, the increase in gun registration in the country, which almost doubled in 2020, is a factor that increases women’s vulnerability.
“There is an international alert about Brazil made by the UN, drawing attention to this fact. There are two important issues when using a weapon: one is the lethality rate, which is very high. The second is how much the firearm facilitates the practice of crime because it is a type of crime that is practiced without getting blood on your hands. You point the gun and shoot the trigger.”
The executive director of Instituto Sou da Paz, Carolina Ricardo, says it is necessary to multiply prevention actions, such as the expansion of Maria da Penha patrols, the possibility of online registration of domestic violence and campaigns such as the one that enables threatened women to ask for help through codes (a red cross written on the palm or on a piece of paper).
“It is important to attack violence against women before becoming feminicide. The more efficient we are to deal with previous aggressions, the lower the risk”, says Carolina, who also points to the increased risk due to the stimulus to acquisition of weapons.
For her, it is necessary to connect several areas of public power. “There must also be a support structure, financial support, shelters so that women can go with their children. The necessary measures are very interdisciplinary, it can’t just be police. It needs social assistance, health, education, everyone connected. on this agenda.”
Advances in legislation for the protection of women
- 2006 – Maria da Penha Law – A milestone in legislation, it is the basis of the current police, legal and legal framework for the prevention and punishment of violence against women
- 2009 – Strengthening of the rape legislation – Law started to consider as rape any act of a sexual sense performed without consent
- 2015 – Femicide Law – Includes the act as an aggravating factor for the crime of homicide
- 2018 – Sexual Harassment Law – Practice of libidinous act (masturbation, for example) in the presence of someone, without that person giving consent
- 2021 – STF declares unconstitutional thesis of legitimate defense of honor – Argument used as basis for acquittal of feminicides