Since the beginning of 2019, on average, four women per day have been killed in Brazil and 126 women have been killed so far this year, causing increased pressure on the government to crack down on femicide cases. There have been an additional 64 attempted murders recorded.
The high rate of women being killed is alarming, but not uncommon for Brazil. Last year, the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), found that 40% of the women killed in Latin America are Brazilian women. These rates have gained national attention and concern from human rights groups as well.
Many of the cases found in Brazil are cases of femicide, the murder of a woman by a man based on gender issues. Femicide is specifically criminalized in Brazil, with a tougher jail sentence of up to 30 years than other similar crimes. Despite this, Brazil still records record high rates of femicide, which the IACHR believes is motivated by the harsh gender roles and the socialization of men. The IACHR pointed out that many of the Brazilian women killed had previously reported cases of domestic violence and many of the abusers were intimate partners with known histories of violence and abuse.
Currently, the IACHR warns that women experiencing domestic violence do not have options to escape these situations, as the country does not have many services available for survivors. Only 74 shelters exist for women experience violence in Brazil for the over 200 million people that live among 26 states. Many victims of femicide cases were killed by intimate partners in their own homes.
The international pressure to address femicide coincides with the recent relaxation of Brazilian gun laws, which was highly contested by women’s rights activist who warned it would endanger more women. With these changes, Brazil is now feeling international pressure to address the rising rates of femicide and gender-based violence.
Media Resources: OAS 2019; Independent 2019; the Guardian 2019