University of Minnesota

Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Brazil, Inter-Am. C.H.R., OEA/Ser.L/V/II.97, Doc. 29 rev.1 (1997).






1. As set forth in the Declaration of the UN World Conference on Human Rights (Vienna 1993): "The human rights of women and of the girl-child are an inalienable, integral and indivisible part of universal human rights." Within the inter-American system, enhancing the ability of women to freely and fully enjoy their human rights has been identified by the Member States as a crucial challenge in the quest to consolidate democratic systems in the hemisphere.(1) The priority accorded throughout the hemisphere to enhancing the effective exercise of democracy is an essential pre-condition for achieving advances in respect for human rights. At the same time, truly participatory democracy cannot flourish until every segment of society fully takes part in national life.(2)

2. In Brazil, women's rights organizations opened a new space for women's participation in national life by working within the context of efforts initiated in the early 1980's to reorganize society to achieve an increasingly effective exercise of democracy. As a consequence of this opening, important initiatives have been taken within both the public and private sectors to combat discrimination against women and its effects. The women's movement in Brazil, supported by the action of hundreds of nongovernmental organizations working in the field of women's rights, has been extremely active in lobbying for advances in women's rights, with great effort having been invested in seeking concrete measures to protect women's right to be free from violence. The Government of Brazil, in turn, has adopted and implemented a series of significant initiatives designed to enhance the observance of the human rights of its female populace.

3. Notwithstanding these advances, and the fact that discrimination on the basis of sex is prohibited by law, the Commission has received complaints and information detailing the persistence of de facto and de jure bias against women in various spheres, and as manifested in the phenomena of violence against women.(3) The recommendations in the present chapter take into account the initiatives that have been taken in the public and private spheres in Brazil, and reflect the realization within Brazilian society that additional measures must be taken to consolidate and further develop the initial gains realized.


4. Within the inter-American human rights system, States Parties to the American Convention undertake to respect and ensure the rights and freedoms established therein "without any discrimination for reasons of race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, economic status, birth, or any other social condition." The American Convention on Human Rights requires that protections for the full range of rights established be made effective so that women and men may fully enjoy their human rights (Article 2). With respect to equality, the American Convention establishes the right of each person to equal protection of and before the law (Article 24), and States Parties are specifically obliged to "take appropriate steps to ensure the equality of rights and the adequate balancing of responsibilities of the spouses" with respect to marriage or its dissolution (Article 17.4). In terms of gender-specific protections, the Convention prohibits trafficking in women (Article 6.1). In addition to being Party to the American Convention and the Inter-American Convention to Prevent and Punish Torture, in 1995 Brazil ratified the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence Against Women "Convention of Belém do Pará."(4)

5. At the international level, Brazil is Party to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, as well as to the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which contain important protections with respect to the human rights of women.(5) It should be noted that, although Brazil lodged certain reservations when its became a Party to the CEDAW in 1984, those reservations were withdrawn in 1994. Brazil supported the Declaration of the UN World Conference on Human Rights, which condemned violence against women; the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women adopted by the UN General Assembly; and the Declaration and Program of Action adopted by the Fourth World Conference on Women's Rights (Beijing 1995).

6. The first State Council on the Condition of Women was established in Sao Paulo in 1983, with a mandate to propose measures to be taken and advise on the integration of women into the political, economic and cultural life of the State. This initiative has been replicated throughout Brazil, at both the state and municipal levels. The Council's Commission on Violence against Women was active in encouraging Sao Paulo's creation of the first Delegacia de Defensa da Mulher in August of 1985.(6) This gender-specific response to crimes of violence against women was unprecedented, and has served as an influential model for replication in Brazil, as well as in other countries.(7) The National Council on Women's Rights (CNDM) was established by President Sarney in 1985, under the purview of the Ministry of Justice, to ensure that policies were enacted to end discrimination against women, and to facilitate their participation in the political, economic and social life of Brazil.

7. As a result of the concerted action of the nongovernmental sector and the CNDM, the 1988 Constitution of Brazil reflects a number of significant advances in favor of women's rights. Article 5 establishes the equality of all persons before the law, and sets forth that men and women have equal rights and obligations (section I). It is a fundamental obligation of the State to promote the welfare of all without discrimination (Article 3.IV). Moreover, Article 5 section XLI stipulates that wrongful discrimination with respect to individual rights and freedoms shall be punished by law. The rights of the the workers are ensured by the Federal Constitution, equally for men and women. Article 7 of the Constitution also enunciates, specific rights of female workers, such as maternity leave and protection of female job market, through specific incentives.

8. Within the National Program on Human Rights, proposed Government initiatives aimed at enhancing the human rights of women include, inter alia: supporting the National Council on Women's Rights and the National Program to Prevent Violence Against Women; supporting efforts to prevent domestic and sexual violence against women, to provide integrated assistance to women at risk, and to educate the public on discrimination and violence against women and available safeguards; revoking certain discriminatory provisions of the Penal Code and Civil Code on Paternal Power; encouraging the development of gender-oriented approaches in the training of state agents and in the setting of curricular guidelines for primary and secondary education; and stimulating statistical studies on the situation of women in the sphere of labor. The Program also calls for the Government to implement the decisions set forth in the Inter-American Convention to Prevent, Punish and Eradicate Violence Against Women.

9. Despite various initiatives to modernize domestic law, and to bring it into conformity with international obligations, such as the undertakings in the CEDAW, a number of anachronistic and discriminatory provisions in the law remain.(8) Various provisions of the Civil Code on Paternal Power, and provisions of the Criminal Code with respect to rape and assault have been targeted for revocation in the National Human Rights Program; additional provisions had been characterized as anachronistic and prejudicial in the Report of Brazil prepared for the Fourth World Conference on Women (Beijing 1995).(9) For example, certain sexual crimes remain classed as crimes against custom, as opposed to crimes against the individual.(10) "Honesty" remains a legal requisite for a woman to be characterized as a victim of certain crimes, and marriage between the perpetrator and the victim may still extinguish the prosecution of certain crimes.(11) In spite of the fact that these provisions have long been recognized as requiring revocation, they nonetheless remain part of domestic law.

10. While the equality of women and men is recognized by law in Brazil, the State acknowledges that "Brazilian women, who represent a little over half the country's population (50.1 percent in 1990) still find it difficult to participate to the full in all aspects of the country's economic and political life."(12) Further steps must be taken to ensure that legal and other reforms are duly applied to ensure the free and full participation of women in national life.(13)


11. In the sphere of labor, Article 7 of the Constitution, inter alia, prohibits differentiation in salary levels on the basis of sex; establishes certain incentives to encourage the participation of women in the work force; and provides for paid maternity leave of 120 days and paternity leave for five days. The Labor Code sets forth additional stipulations with respect to the rights of women in the workplace.

12. In September of 1996, a new Governmental Working Group for the Elimination of Discrimination in Employment and Occupation (GTEDEO) was established to work toward the elimination of gender-based discrimination, and in favor of the improved implementation of the anti-discrimination provisions of the Constitution, national law and Convention 111 of the International Labor Organization.

13. Notwithstanding that discrimination in wages, hiring and the exercise of functions is prohibited by law, the Government has recognized that "gender discrimination still persists in the labour market."(14) At the close of 1994, the Government reported that women with the same education and qualifications as their male counterparts earned 54% of the salaries paid to the latter.(15) The Brazilian Statistics and Geography Institute reported findings from a survey it had conducted which indicated that, on average, men received seven times the minimum salary, while women received three or four times that amount. In the field of professional education it is worth pointing out that a 42% of the persons registered in the courses offered are women.

14. Although the Constitution and Labor Code prohibit dismissal on the basis of pregnancy, reports received by the Commission indicate that this continues to occur, and that some employers continue to screen out pregnant job applicants, women of childbearing age, or in some cases require proof of sterilization from the latter as a condition for employment. One of the tasks of the GTEDEO is to address the latter practice by ensuring the full application of the law prohibiting it.

15. Forced prostitution is a complex human rights violation which may involve the prohibited use of forced labor, trafficking in women and girls, and violence. The Commission has been unable to collect sufficient up to date information to permit it to fully consider the scope of this problem in Brazil. The Government has taken some initial steps to address the problem, in relation to "reports of hundreds of girls being kept in a state of servitude in remote gold prospect[ing] sites in the Amazon." These include police actions to locate and free some girls, an initiative to report on the torture and murder of girls being held as slaves in the north, and the initiation of a Parliamentary Inquiry Commission.(16) These indicia suggest the probable existence of a pattern of serious human rights violations in certain localities, which require an immediate and integrated response to protect victims and ensure the investigation, prosecution and punishment of the perpetrators of such crimes. (This issue is further analyzed in this report's chapter on "Rights of Minors".)


16. Article 23 of the American Convention on Human Rights provides that every citizen shall enjoy the right "to take part in the conduct of public affairs, directly or through freely chosen representatives," to vote in free and fair elections, and "to have access, under general conditions of equality, to the public service of his country." The Brazilian Constitution establishes that women and men have the same rights with respect to citizenship, and are entitled on an equal basis to vote, to stand for election and to hold positions within the public administration.

17. Although the role of women in national and public life in Brazil has developed significantly since the Nairobi Conference (1985),(17) it is widely acknowledged that they continue to be severely underrepresented in the institutions of the State, and are limited in their access to the higher ranking positions within the civil service and elected office.(18) The Brazilian women's movement has sought to address this through various means, including lobbying for change within the structures of political parties. Following the reopening of space for political action in the 1980's, many parties began to take up issues concerning the rights of their women constituents. In 1991, women lobbied within the Partido dos Trabalhadores (Worker's Party) to establish a quota ensuring that women would make up 30% of the party leadership.

18. Overall, as of 1995, women held 13.1% of the positions in government.(19) As of 1994, the percentage of Congressional seats held by women was 5.7%.(20) Women are also underrepresented in the Legislative Assembly's of the States within the Federation.(21) The first female Governor of a State was elected in 1994. At the local level, according to figures compiled for 1992, 171 women had been elected mayor, and 1672 had been elected to serve as members of the 4973 municipal councils.(22) Among the measures taken to increase women's political participation is the adoption of Law 9100/95, which required that each political party ensure that at least 20 % of their candidates proposed for the October 1996 elections be women.

19. Within the Executive, figures for 1995 indicate that 3.6% of positions at the Ministerial level, and 14.7 positions at the sub-ministerial level were held by women.(23) Prior to the current administration, a total of seven women had served as Ministers. Within the Ministry of Foreign Relations, the figures for 1994 indicate that three women (2.94% of the total) held the rank of Minister First Class (the highest rank in the diplomatic service).(24) Within the Judiciary, notwithstanding the introduction of a competitive public selection process for judicial appointments in 1985, almost no women serve on the higher courts. Within the superior courts, for example, of the 93 judges serving in 1990, all but one were male.(25) Within the Public Ministry, at the close of 1993, women held 26.9% of the positions, up from 20.4% in 1986, and 11.1% in 1980.(26)


20. Women suffer the consequences of victimization through violence in countries throughout our hemisphere, across the socio-economic, race and cultural strata.(27) The specific situation of violence against women in Brazil(28) has engendered extensive action on the part of the governmental and nongovernmental sectors. Within the former, one of the priority duties of the National Women's Rights Council has been raising the issue of violence against women at the highest political levels, as well as within the public debate, working for legal reform, and supporting efforts to ensure that law enforcement and judicial personnel understand the causes, nature and consequences of such violence.(29) This action helped to ensure the incorporation of an explicit commitment, in Article 226, VIII of the 1988 Constitution, for the State to create mechanisms to address and repudiate violence within the family sphere.(30) In 1993, the Chamber of Deputies established a Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry to study the situation of violence against women in Brazil.(31)

21. As a State Party to the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence against Women, "Convention of Belém do Pará," Brazil has undertaken a series of specific obligations which elaborate upon and complement the more general provisions of the American Convention. The Convention of Belém do Pará establishes the regional definition of violence against women: "as any act or conduct, based on gender, which causes death or physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, whether in the public or private sphere"(32) "Every woman has the right to be free from violence in both the public and private spheres," (Article 3) and is entitled to have the full range of her fundamental rights and freedoms ensured and respected (Articles 4, 5). It is important to note that the right of every woman to be free from violence includes the right "to be free from all forms of discrimination," and to be "valued and educated free of stereotyped patterns of behavior and social and cultural practices based on concepts of inferiority or subordination" (Article 6).

22. States Parties to the Convention of Belém do Pará undertake to pursue, "without delay," policies to prevent, punish and eradicate violence against women (Article 7). This means that Parties are obliged to ensure: that agents of the state respect the right of women to be free from violence; that due diligence shall be applied "to prevent, investigate and impose penalties for violence against women" (in the public and private spheres; and, that victims of violence have access to timely and effective remedies. Legislation or practices which "sustain the persistence and tolerance" of such violence must be revoked.(33)

23. Since the mid-1980's, Brazil has been in the forefront of the region in developing and implementing strategies to provide services to women victims of violence. Currently, there are over 150 Delegacias de Defensa da Mulher country-wide, providing specialized services to victims. In addition to providing specially trained policewomen to perform standard law enforcement functions, these stations aim to provide integrated social and psychological services as well.

24. Domestic violence is, in fact, the most common form of violence against women in Brazil, and includes wife-murder, domestic battery, abuse and rape.(34) The first shelter for victims of domestic violence in Brazil was opened as a pilot project in 1986. Through agreements with the Public Welfare Secretariats of the States of the Federation, the Conselho dos Dereitos da Mulher offers incentives to encourage the establishment of additional shelters for battered women and their children. Most recently, on March 8, 1996, the Federal Government launched a new "National Program to Prevent and Combat Sexual and Domestic Violence." The Program contemplates action on a number of fronts, including a proposal to revoke the archaic characterization of certain sexual crimes commonly suffered by women as crimes against "custom."

25. While the Delegacias represent a remarkable advance in terms of addressing the gender-specific causes and consequences of violence against women, their ability to protect women's rights remains limited by a lack of human and material resources, insufficient training for both specialized and non-specialized personnel (in the general ranks of the Police) in dealing with cases of violence and with gender issues generally, and insufficient coordination with the rest of the police apparatus.(35) The specialized stations that exist are not able to serve all victims. In rural areas in particular, women have little official recourse against violence, and few resources through which to seek assistance.(36)

26. Moreover, even where these specialized stations exist, it remains frequently the case that complaints are not fully investigated or prosecuted. In some cases, resource limitations hinder efforts to respond to these crimes. In other cases, women refrain from pressing formal charges. In practice, legal and other limitations often expose women to situations where they feel constrained to act. By law, women have to register their complaint at a police station, and explain what happened so the delegate can write up an "incident report." Delegates who have not received sufficient training may be unable to provide the required services, and some reportedly continue to respond to victims in ways that make them feel shame and humiliation. For certain crimes, such as rape, victims must present themselves at an Institute of Forensic Medicine (Instituto Médico Legal), which has the exclusive competence to perform the examinations required by law to process a charge. Some women are not aware of this requirement, or do not have access to such a facility in the timely manner necessary to obtain the required evidence. These Institutes tend to be located in urban areas, and, where available, are often understaffed. Moreover, even when women take the steps necessary to denounce the use of criminal violence, there is no guarantee that the crime will be investigated and prosecuted.(37)

27. Although the Supreme Court of Brazil struck down the archaic "honor defense" as a justification for wife-killing in 1991, many courts remain reluctant to prosecute and punish the perpetrators of domestic violence.(38) In some areas of the country, use of the "honor defense" persists, and in some areas the conduct of the victim continues to be a focal point within the judicial process to prosecute a sexual crime. Rather than focusing on the existence of the legal elements of the crime in question, the practices of some defense lawyers -- sustained in turn by some courts -- have the effect of requiring the victim to demonstrate the sanctity of her reputation and hermoral blamelessness in order to exercise the remedies legally required to be available to her. The initiatives taken by the public and private sector to confront violence against women have begun to combat the silence which customarily has concealed it, but have yet to surmount the social, legal and other barriers which contribute to the impunity in which these crimes too often languish.


28. The action and interaction of the public and private sectors in Brazil has produced many noteworthy advances in the struggle to ensure that women fully and equally enjoy their human rights. The State initiated an unprecedented program to provide specialized police services for women victims of violence which continues to provide a model for other countries in terms of its breadth and scope. At the same time, the critical needs served by this program have only become more apparent over time, and demonstrate the need for further investment and development to meet the needs of victims.

29. There have been significant strides in reforming legislation to revoke provisions which were facially discriminatory, yet archaic legislation remains on the books (despite having been identified as such) and anachronistic practices which persist are incompatible with Brazil's international legal obligations. Moreover, such provisions and practices perpetuate stereotypes which further hinder the ability of women to exercise their rights and freedoms. These must be changed in accordance with Brazil's status as a Party to the American Convention, the Convention of Belém do Pará, and the Convention on Elimination of all Form of Discrimination agains Women (CEDAW).

30. The crimes which fall within the heading of violence against women constitute human rights violations under the American Convention, as well as under the more specific terms of the Convention of Belém do Pará. When committed by state agents, the use of violence against the physical and/or mental integrity of an individual gives rise to the direct responsibility of the State. Additionally, the State has an obligation under Article 1.1 of the American Convention and Article 7.b of the Convention of Belém do Pará to exercise due diligence to prevent human rights violations. This means that, even where conduct may not initially be directly imputable to a state (for example, because the actor is unidentified or not a state agent), a violative act may lead to state responsibility "not because of the act itself, but because of the lack of due diligence to prevent the violation or respond to it as the Convention requires."(39)

31. As the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence has stated, where it is demonstrated that the existence of legislative protections is insufficient to protect the right of women to be free from violence, "States must find other complementary mechanisms to prevent domestic violence," including educating the public, training relevant personnel, and the funding of direct services to assist victims.(40) Brazil has taken noteworthy and innovative steps to develop and implement such mechanisms, and has indicated in its Human Rights Program and other policy directives its will to consolidate existing programs and realize further gains.

32. Where violations do occur, the State is required to investigate, submit the perpetrators to justice, and ensure the existence of mechanisms of compensation. The Brazilian nongovernmental SOS Mulher began their 1980 campaign to address violence against women with the rallying cry: "Silence is the accomplice of violence." In 1993, the participants of the First National Conference of Popular Organizations Against Violence Against Women, held in Sao Paulo, added a new call for action: "Impunity is the accomplice of Violence." The information available to the Commission indicates that further steps remain to be taken to ensure that complaints of violence against women, particularly in the domestic sphere, are fully investigated and sanctioned according to the law.


33. That the State take additional steps to address discrimination against women in the private and public spheres, including: a) education free of stereotyped patterns of behavior;(41) b) the revocation of archaic legal provisions; c) measures to ensure that discrimination be promptly investigated, prosecuted and sanctioned.

34. That the State continue and amplify measures to promote the participation of women in decisionmaking at all levels in the public and private spheres, and particularly to ensure that women have appropriate representation at all levels of government and within the civil service.

35. That the State take additional measures to address the effects of discrimination on the ability of women to participate in the economic life of the country, including disparity in salary levels; full enjoyment by women of labor rights; and discriminatory lending practices.

36. That the State enhance the availability of appropriate responses to crimes of violence against women; including a) appropriate investigation, prosecution and punishment; b) simplification of the prerequisites for presentation of women's claim; c) special measures to protect the physical integrity of a woman subjected to threats or violence in the private or public sphere; d) support training of police, judicial and other relevant personnel with respect to the measures and resources which exist to protect the right of women to be free from violence; and, e) to attend to the physical and psychological needs of victims.

37. That the State further analyze and report on the practice of forced prostitution and servitude suffered by women and girls in certain localities of the country in order to design and implement a comprehensive response to protect victims and ensure the investigation, prosecution and punishment of those responsible.




1. See generally, Declaration of Principles of the Summit of the Americas (Miami, 1994), Declaration of Montrouis adopted by the OAS General Assembly (Haiti, 1995).

2. Organizations meeting during the Brazilian National Conference ("On the Road to Beijing") in preparation for the UN Fourth World Conference on Women proposed, among other things, that regional Governments: "recognize that the construction and strengthening of democracy requires full participation by women in equal conditions with men;" "guarantee civil, political, reproductive, sexual, social, and cultural rights for women and men, aimed at the full exercise of citizenship and the end of social inequalities;" and, "remodel institutions and practices in order to promote greater representation, participation, and responsibility vis-à-vis its citizens."

3. The Commission is well aware that the persistence of such discrimination affects women throughout the hemisphere, and has therefore appointed a Special Rapporteur to study the status of women in the Americas in order that the Commission may adopt recommendations aimed at assisting all the member states in meeting their obligations to respect and ensure the rights of women.

4. Brazil is also Party to the Inter-American Convention on the Granting of Civil Rights to Women (opened for signature 1948, ratified 1952) and the Inter-American Convention on the Granting of Political Rights to Women (opened for signature 1948, ratified 1950).

5. Further, Brazil is Party to, inter alia, the International Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Women of Full Age (1933) and the International Convention on the Suppression of the Traffic in Women and Children (1921), as amended by the Protocol signed at Lake Success (1947); Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others, and Final Protocol (1950); Convention on the Political Rights of Women (1953); The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (1984); and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989).

6. The delegacia is a police station staffed by women officers with specialized training to process cases concerning rape, other sexual crimes and domestic abuse, and is further discussed infra.

7. See, S. Alvarez, "The (Trans)formation of Feminism(s) and Gender Politics in Democratizing Brazil," in The Women's Movement in Latin America, 13-63, at 41 (J. Jaquette ed. 2nd ed. 1994).

8. As part of the National Program to Prevent and Combat Domestic and Sexual Violence, which is under consideration by the National Congress (bill 9099-95), an amendment is made to Section 1 of Chapter VI of Title I of the special part of the Criminal Code to correct the classification assigned to crimes against sexual freedom in the present body of laws. Statutory rape and violent indecent exposure will thus be classified as crimes against personal and sexual freedom rather than offenses against customs. Mention should also be made of the draft Statute of Stable Union, which is governed by Article 226.3 of the Federal Constitution and shall be examined by the Congress in a public hearing in 1997. Also under study by the Congress is the bill intended to adapt the Civil Code and its introductory law to the precepts of the Federal Political Constitution as far as the new legal status of women is concerned, which stems from the principle of equality and the new guaranteed constitutional rights.

9. See, Relatório Geral sobre a Mulher na Sociedade Brasileira [Report of Brazil to the UN Fourth World Conference on Women, Beijing 1995], at 20-21 (1994).

10. See, e.g., Articles 213, 214, Criminal Code.

11. As to the latter, see, Article 107 of the Criminal Code.

12. Human Rights Committee, Initial reports of State parties [under Article 40 of the ICCPR] due in 1993: Brazil, [17 Nov. 1994], CCPR/C/81/Add.6, 2 Mar. 1995 [Eng.], para. 42.

13. See, id. (noting that "there has been some difficulty in translating these innovations into routine practices").

14. Id., para 48.

15. Id.. See also, UNDP, Human Development Report, at 138 [table 2] (1996) (presenting 1993 figures indicating that earned income share for women was 28.6% versus 71.4% for men).

16. HRC, Report, supra n. 11, at paras. 140-142.

17. Relatório, supra at 11.

18. See generally, IULA/CELCADEL, USAID, Brasil: Mujeres en el Poder Local: Proyectos y Contextos (1993).

19. Human Development Report, supra n. 14, at 156 [table 10].

20. See, Relatório, supra, at 11 (citing statistics compiled by the Centro Feminista de Estudos e Assessoria). This is up from a mere 1.6 percent representation, on average, between 1934 and 1990. HRC, Report, supra n. 11, at para. 44.

21. In 1990, 12.9% of the seats in the Legislative Assembly of the State of Rio de Janeiro were held by women, the highest percentage nationally, while women held only 3.6% of the seats in the State of Sao Paulo. Relatório, at 13.

22. Human Rights Committee, Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties under Article 40 of the Covenant, Initial Report of Brazil, CCPR/C/SR.1508, 16 July 1996, para. 52.

23. UNDP, supra n. 14, at 156 table 10.

24. Relatório, at 15.

25. HRC, Report, supra n. 11, at 45 (noting that one woman had been appointed to the bench of the Superior Labor Court).

26. Relatório, at 16.

27. As the UN Economic and Social Council has stated: "Violence against women in the family and society is pervasive and cuts across lines of income, class and culture ... Violence against women derives from their unequal status in society." Resolution 1990/15 (Annex), 24 May 1990.

28. For sources on violence against women in Brazil, see e.g., D. Ardaillon, G. Grin Debert, Cuando a vitima é mulher: Analise de julgamentos de crimenes de estupro, espancamento e homicidio, (CEDAC, Conselho Nacional dos Dereitos da Mulher, 1987); Americas Watch, Criminal Injustice: Violence Against Women in Brazil (1991); L. de Andrade Linhares Barsted, Violência contra a Mulher e Cidadania: Uma Avaliacao das Políticas Públicas (CEPIA 1994); J. Hermann, L. de Andrade Linhares Barsted, O Judiciário e a Violência contra a Mulher: A Ordem Legal e a Des(ordem) Familiar (CEPIA 1995).

29. Id., at 26.

30. Brazil was one of the first Latin American countries to incorporate a provision on domestic violence into its Constitution.

31. The CPI found that of the crimes committed against women, on average, 26.2% involved bodily injury; 16.4% involved threats; 3.0% involved crimes against honor; 1.8% involved rape; and 0.5%, homicide. These data varied from state to state. In São Paulo, for example, crimes of bodily injury accounted for 70.2% of the crimes committed against women (not including homicides). In some states the high incidence of homicide was noted by the CPI. In states such as Alagoas (Northeast), for example, one-fourth of the women victims of violence were murdered; in Pernambuco (Northeast) this figure was 13.2%, and in Espírito Santo (Southeast), 11.1%. In these states it was observed that there was a greater relative incidence of crimes of rape: 13.3% in Alagoas, 19.1% in Pernambuco, and 19.8% in Espírito Santo. In 50% of these reported cases, the rape had been by a family member of the victim.

32. It includes physical, sexual and psychological violence:

a. that occurs within the family or domestic unit or within any other interpersonal relationship, whether or not the perpetrator shares or has shared the same residence with the woman, including, among others, rape, battery and sexual abuse;

b. that occurs in the community and is perpetrated by any person, including, among others, rape, sexual abuse, torture, trafficking in persons, forced prostitution, kidnapping and sexual harassment in the workplace, as well as in educational institutions, health facilities or any other place; and

c. that is perpetrated or condoned by the state or its agents regardless of where it occurs.

33. The Convention of Belém do Pará establishes standing to file complaints similar to that under the American Convention: any person or group may file a complaint that the basic undertakings set forth in Article 7 have been violated.

34. See, Relatório, at 57-58 (presenting aggregate statistics from specialized police stations for 1992 indicating that in approximately 60% of the cases dealt with, the aggressor was the spouse or companion of the victim); See generally,, Barsted, supra n. 27, at 17. Statistics indicate that approximately 70% of violent incidents against women occur in the home. See, Americas Watch, supra n. 27, at 4.

35. Barsted, supra at 36-38.

36. The Government has acknowledged that "the number of police units specially trained to deal with such violence should be substantially increased." See, HRC, Consideration of Reports, supra, n. 21, at para. 54.

37. Where statistics have been reported, they show that only a percentage of crimes reported to specialized police stations are actually investigated. See, Uniao de Mulheres de Sao Paulo, A Violência Contra a Mulher e a Impunidade: Uma Questao Política (1995), and compare tables at 51-52 with those at 53-54 (showing aggregate figures for January through September of 1994 of 86,815 reports filed versus 24,103 police investigations initiated).

38. See generally, Hermann and Barsted, supra n. 27 (analyzing the approach of the Brazilian judiciary to domestic violence); Americas Watch, supra n. 27, at 26-29, 43-50, 60-63.

39. Velásquez Rodríguez Case, Judgment of July 29, 1988, Ser. C No. 4, para. 172. The identity of the actor is not decisive in this sense; rather, the issue is whether the violation of a protected right has taken place with the "support or acquiescence" of the state, or absent measures to prevent an anticipated violation or to respond to it with measures of due diligence. Id. at para. 173.

40. Report of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy, submitted in accordance with Commission on Human Rights resolution 1995/85, E/CN.4/1996/53, 5 Feb. 1996 [Eng.], para. 140-41.

41. In March 1996, the Ministry of Justice CNDM and the Ministry of Education and Sports MEC signed the protocol whereby the MEC replaced all textbooks in the school system that have a stereotypical approach to gender and promoted courses on the gender perspective for teachers of both sexes.


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