HomeNewsBriefBrazil Toughens Legislation on Femicides
BRIEF

Brazil Toughens Legislation on Femicides

BRAZIL / 12 MAR 2015 BY DAVID GAGNE EN

Brazil has strengthened and broadened existing legislation on femicides, but the new law is no guarantee authorities can lower the country's high rate of violence against women.

On March 9, President Dilma Rousseff signed a new femicide law that carries a minimum prison sentence of 12 years for homicides resulting from domestic violence, reported BBC. Penalties are set even higher for the murder of girls under the age of 14 or women over the age of 60, as well as for pregnant women. The law also expands the definition of femicide to include any crime involving domestic violence or gender discrimination.

On March 8, Rousseff had announced the law would be passed during a speech on International Women's Day, according to O Globo. The Brazilian president said on average 15 women are killed every day in the country. Rousseff added this legislation is in keeping with Brazil's "zero tolerance policy on violence against women."

Nevertheless, the UN Representative of Women in Brazil, Nadine Gasman, said enforcement of the new law may be hindered by a "culture of machismo," reported BBC Brasil.

InSight Crime Analysis

Brazil's new femicide legislation takes aim at the high level of gender-based violence in Brazil. According to the country's 2012 Map of Violence Against Women (pdf), Brazil ranked seventh out of 84 countries in terms of prevalence of femicides, with a murder rate of 4.4 per 100,000 women.

SEE ALSO: Brazil News and Profiles

Nevertheless, it remains to be seen if the new law will have a tangible impact on femicide rates in Brazil. According to Rousseff, 15 other countries in Latin America have laws on the books that specifically address gender violence. However, eight of the 12 countries with the highest rates of femicides from 2004 to 2009 worldwide are in Latin America or the Caribbean, according to a 2012 report by Small Arms Survey (pdf). As Gasman alluded to, stiffer laws must be accompanied by adequate implementation, or else women will continue to suffer high rates of victimization.

It is difficult to judge the correlation between organized crime and femicides in Brazil. However, a 2014 report by the Brookings Institute found that the department of Amazonas was a "hotspot" for femicides, and also registered the highest number of sex trafficking cases in 2012. While sophisticated criminal groups typically orchestrate transnational human and sex trafficking networks in Latin America, it is nevertheless unclear whether areas in Brazil with greater organized crime activity also have higher indices of femicides.

From a regional perspective, the UN Human Rights Office has identified the growth of organized crime structures as a principal cause for the high levels of violence against women in Latin America. An Associated Press investigation in 2014 found members of El Salvador's two largest street gangs, the Barrio 18 and MS13, frequently use rape and femicide as a way to terrorize communities.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

BRAZIL / 12 JUL 2019

Police in Rio de Janeiro have targeted one of the city's oldest and largest militias, but the conditions that first…

BRAZIL / 4 FEB 2015

Brazil's most violent major city, the colonial metropolis of Salvador de Bahia on the country's northern coast, has been hit…

ELITES AND CRIME / 17 OCT 2014

Authorities in Honduras have dismantled a network that prostituted underage girls, in a case where the security forces not only…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.

THE ORGANIZATION

Series on Environmental Crime in the Amazon Generates Headlines

17 SEP 2021

InSight Crime and the Igarapé Institute have been delighted at the response to our joint investigation into environmental crimes in the Colombian Amazon. Coverage of our chapters dedicated to illegal mining…