What is violence against women? Probably when you hear this question, a slap, a punch, a kick goes through your head, that is, a physical aggression. But the violence goes far beyond that: several women suffer some form of aggression every day and they don’t even realize it. The worst thing is that they can keep silent, not knowing that they could end this situation. Often, recurring attitudes that hurt the dignity and self-esteem of women are also considered violence and can be reported. If you think this may be the case for you, read this text to the end. Find out now what types of violence against women are and how to report them.
In today’s text, we will cover the following topics:
- Women’s violence in numbers
- The Maria da Penha Law
- Types of Violence Against Women
- How to report
- Don’t be silent
Violence against women in numbers
A survey conducted in 2017 by Datafolha and commissioned by the Brazilian Security Forum shows that 22% of Brazilians suffered verbal abuse in 2016, a total of 12 million women. In addition, 10% of women were threatened with physical violence, 8% were sexually assaulted, 4% were threatened with a knife or firearm. And yet: 3% or 1.4 million women were beaten or strangled and 1% were shot at least.
The survey also showed that, among women who suffered violence, 52% were silent. Only 11% sought a women’s police station and 13% preferred family assistance. In 61% of the cases, the aggressor is known, 19% of the time, they were current victims’ companions and in 16% they were ex-companions. The most serious assaults occurred inside the victims’ homes, in 43% of cases compared to 39% on the streets.
The Maria da Penha Law
Until a few years ago, violence against women was not seen as a major social problem and aggressors had light sentences. For this reason, a large part of the female population did not have the courage to report. Until in August 2006, Law No. 11,340 was created, popularly known as the Maria da Penha Law. It started to guarantee the protection of women against any type of domestic violence, whether physical, psychological, patrimonial or moral.
The Maria da Penha Law amended the Brazilian Penal Code, causing aggressors to be caught in the act or to have preventive custody decreed if they commit any act of domestic violence pre-established by law. It also eliminated alternative penalties for aggressors, who were previously punished with payment of a basic basket or small fines.
The perpetrator can also be sentenced to three years in prison, and the sentence is increased by one third if the crime is committed against a person with a disability. All crimes that fall under the Maria da Penha law must be tried by the Specialized Courts of Domestic Violence against Women, which were created based on this legislation.
The history of the law
The starting point for the creation of this law was the history of the pharmaceutical company from Ceará Maria da Penha Maia Fernandes, who suffered for approximately 23 years of domestic violence by her ex-husband. Maria da Penha’s university professor and ex-husband, Marco Antônio Herredia Viveros, tried to kill his wife twice, the first being in 1983, when he shot Maria da Penha while sleeping, leaving her paraplegic.
After this attempted murder, she took courage, denounced him, was able to leave the house due to a court order and started the battle for her ex-husband to be convicted. However, the case was tried twice and, due to allegations by the defense that there would be irregularities, the case remained open for some years.
It was from the victim’s struggle, supported by several movements (national and international), that the Brazilian government was forced to create and approve a new legal device that would bring greater effectiveness in the prevention and punishment of domestic and family violence in Brazil.
Types of Violence Against Women
According to the Maria da Penha Law, there are five types of violence against women. Although most of them do not have physical aggression, they are considered crimes and should be reported. See what they are:
1- Physical violence
Any conduct that offends the woman’s bodily integrity or health. These are the most reported cases in the woman’s police stations and most often the aggressors are the victim’s companions or family members. We can cite as examples of this type of violence
- slaps, punches and beatings;
- throwing objects, shaking and squeezing the arms;
- strangulation or suffocation;
- injuries with sharp or piercing objects;
- injuries caused by burns or firearms;
2- Psychological violence
Any conduct that causes emotional damage to a woman and a decrease in self-esteem or that harms and disturbs her full development or that aims to degrade or control her actions, behaviors, beliefs and decisions.
It is one of the most common and most difficult violence to be detected by the victims, but the psychological damage is usually devastating. Many women do not denounce their partners simply because they do not believe that they are experiencing any type of violence.
Assaults can happen in the form of curses and that directly harm the victim’s morale. “Porca”, “vagabunda”, “gorda” are just some of the words constantly used by the aggressors as a way to demean women, who are also often forbidden to wear certain clothes, to study, work or have friends.
According to the World Health Organization, the naturalization of this type of “aggression” can be a stimulus to a spiral of violence and can precede feminicide. Examples of this type of violence are:
- isolation (prohibiting leaving home, studying and traveling or talking to friends and relatives);
- constant surveillance;
- limitation of the right to come and go;
- take away the freedom of belief.
3- Sexual violence
Any conduct that compels women to witness, maintain or participate in unwanted sexual intercourse, through intimidation, threat, coercion or the use of force. Despite being normally associated with rape, the term sexual violence is much broader and covers a number of situations that women currently experience, whether with strangers, relatives, boyfriends or partners.
Unfortunately, it is still a common violence, mainly due to the macho thinking of possession and dominance that men believe they have over women and the inability of some men to hear no as an answer. Blaming the victim (she was wearing short clothes, she was asking, she was drunk) is also a major factor responsible for the increase in this type of violence. Examples of sexual violence include:
- rape (including when it occurs within marriage, when the husband forces his wife to have sex);
- forcing women to perform sexual acts that cause discomfort or disgust (fetishes);
- prevent the use of contraceptives or force women to miscarry;
- forcing marriage, pregnancy or prostitution through coercion, blackmail, bribery or manipulation;
- limit or cancel the exercise of women’s sexual and reproductive rights;
- compel women to market or use their sexuality in any way (sexual exploitation).
4- Property violence
Any action or conduct that may constitute retention, subtraction, partial or total destruction of the woman’s objects. These assets can be work tools, personal documents, assets, values and rights or economic resources, including those designed to meet the needs of women. Examples of patrimonial violence are:
- theft, extortion or damage;
- control money;
- failing to pay child support;
- destruction of personal documents;
- deprive of goods, values or economic resources;
- cause damage on purpose to the woman’s objects or that she likes.
5- Moral Violence
It is a little talked about violence, but it is more common than you think. We can say that it is any conduct that constitutes slander, defamation or injury. It is when the aggressor gives an opinion against the woman’s moral reputation, makes false criticisms and swears. This type of violence can also happen over the internet.
demote women by swearing at their nature;
- Try to tarnish the woman’s reputation;
- issue moral judgments about the conduct;
- make lying criticisms;
- expose intimate life;
- distort and omit facts to question the woman’s memory and sanity;
- falsely claiming that the woman committed a crime that she did not commit.
How to report
When the woman suffers some type of violence, she can call the Women’s Service Center (Call 180), or through the Clique 180 app. The complaint is anonymous and free, available 24 hours a day, all over the country. Through the telephone, the woman will receive support and guidance on the next steps to solve the problem. The complaint is distributed to a local entity, such as the Women’s Defense Stations (DDM) or the Special Women’s Service Stations (DEAM), depending on the state.
The victim may also seek a specialized police station for this assistance in the region. If there is no such agency in the area where she lives, she can go to a common police station, where priority should be given to assistance. If the victim is at the moment of the threat or aggression, the victim can also call 911 or go to a Basic Health Unit (UBS), where there is guidance to refer the victim to competent authorities.
Don’t be silent
Many women lose their lives for not having the courage to denounce their aggressors. Violence against women is a crime and needs to be reported. A person who commits violence once is likely to do the same thing if there is no intervention or a full stop. If you experience any type of violence, report it and ask for a protective measure against your abuser. This action will prevent it from getting close to you and will give you more security. Don’t be part of the statistics, preserve your life.