Maria da Penha Law

The Maria da Penha Law , enacted on August 7, 2006, as Law No. 11,340, aims to protect women from domestic and family violence.

The law got its name due to the struggle of the pharmacist Maria da Penha to see her attacker convicted.


The law is for all people who identify with the female sex, heterosexuals and homosexuals. This means that transsexual women are also included.

Likewise, the victim must be in a situation of vulnerability in relation to the aggressor. This does not necessarily have to be the husband or partner: it can be a relative or a person of your life.

Maria da Penha addresses the Minister of the Supreme Court, Ellen Grace; and President Lula, on the day of the sanction of the law that bears his name. (08/07/2006)

The Maria da Penha law does not only cover cases of physical aggression. There are also situations of psychological violence such as withdrawal from friends and family, offenses, destruction of objects and documents, defamation and slander.

News brought with the Maria da Penha Law:

  • Arrest of the suspected aggression;
  • domestic violence becomes an aggravating factor to increase the sentence;
  • it is no longer possible to substitute the penalty for donation of a basic basket or fines;
  • order of removal of the aggressor from the victim and his relatives;
  • economic assistance in case the victim is dependent on the aggressor.


Maria da Penha is a Brazilian pharmacist, born in Ceará, who suffered constant aggressions by her husband.

In 1983, her husband tried to kill her with a shotgun. Despite escaping death, he left her paraplegic. When she finally returned to the house, she underwent another assassination attempt, as her husband tried to electrocute her.

When Maria da Penha found the courage to denounce her aggressor, she faced a situation that many women faced in this case: incredulity on the part of the Brazilian Justice.

For his part, the defense of the aggressor always alleged irregularities in the process and the suspect awaited trial in freedom.

In 1994, Maria da Penha launches the book ” Sobrevivi … May I Count ” where she narrates the violence suffered by her and her three daughters.

Likewise, it decides to call the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) and the Latin American and Caribbean Committee for the Defense of Women’s Rights (CLADEM).

These organizations forward their case to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States (OAS) in 1998.

The case of Maria da Penha was only solved in 2002 when the Brazilian State was condemned for omission and negligence by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

Thus, Brazil had to commit itself to reforming its laws and policies in relation to domestic violence.

Years after it came into force, the Maria da Penha law can be considered a success. Only 2% of Brazilians have never heard of this law and there was an increase of 86% in complaints of family and domestic violence after its creation.

Aid to Victims of Violence

Campaign for women and citizens to report abuse through 180

To help victims of violence, the government made available the 180 number in which the person who feels victim of violence can report his aggressor.

Likewise, it instituted Casa da Mulher Brasileira with the specific objective of welcoming women who have nowhere to go.

See also: Femicide: definition, law, types and statistics

Figures on Violence against Women in Brazil

Despite the success of the Maria da Penha Law, statistics on violence against women in Brazil remain high. See these data:

  • Every day about 13 women are murdered in Brazil, with data from the 2015 Map of Violence, carried out by the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (Flacso).
  • In 2013, 4,762 murders of women were recorded. Of these, 50.3% were committed by family members, and in this universe, 33.2% of these cases, the crime was committed by the partner or ex., According to the same survey.
  • 3 out of 5 young women have experienced violence in relationships according to a survey conducted by Instituto Avon in partnership with Data Popular (Nov / 2014).


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