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Brazzil - Violence - March 2004
 

Brazil: Domestic Abuse Ends in the Hospital

The Brazilian government has made it mandatory for hospitals
and first aid stations to report cases of violence against women.
In the future, the public health system will be authorized to perform
abortions in cases of risk of life or rape. Assistance to female victims
of violence should be increased by 30 percent in the next three years.

Paula Menna Barreto


Although women are a majority in Brazil (50.77 percent of the population), and the main users of the country's public health system (Sistema Único de Saúde, SUS), as the victims of domestic violence and sexual assaults they have also become a serious public health problem. That is the main result of a study by the World Health Organization, in São Paulo and the backlands (Zona da Mata) of the state of Pernambuco.

The study found that in both São Paulo and the Pernambuco backlands women who are victims of violence are three times as likely to consider suicide as women who are not victims of violence. Around a third (36 percent) of the women who are injured in domestic violence need medical care.

As a result, and as part of International Women's Day activities, the government has now made it mandatory for hospitals and first aid stations to report cases of violence against women. In the future, the public health system will be authorized to perform abortions in cases of risk of life or rape. And the ministry of Health says that over the next three years it will expand its facilities for assisting female victims of violence by 30 percent.

Special Commission

The Chamber of Deputies has just installed a special commission that will discuss activities to give women easier access to health and education services and the labor market, as well as guaranteeing the fight against domestic violence. The commission is temporary in character and will function just in 2004, which is the Year of Women.

The commission was created in February for the purpose of expediting the work of the female bloc in Congress and selecting projects that establish or expand women's rights. There are currently around 300 projects on women's rights under consideration in the Chamber. The commission will be made up of one woman from each party.

A group of female rural workers has just started a national movement called Movimento de Mulheres Camponesas do Brasil. The event is part of celebrations of International Women's Day and brought together some 1,500 women at an outdoor camp in Brasília, Brazil's capital. In a document released by the movement, they call for greater participation of female rural workers in making decisions on farm policy.

According to a report from the International Labor Organization, the number of women in the job market rises every day, but the unemployment rate for women remains high while their salaries continue low. The ILO says that 60 percent of the 550 million poor workers in the world are female.

The ILO report also says that the progress of women in obtaining high-level positions is "slow, unequal and, at times, discouraging." The report, entitled "Global Employment Trends for Women 2004", says that in 2003, 40 percent of workers were women; a total of 1.1 billion out of 2.8 billion. That is an increase of 200 million in the last decade.

The reports indicates too that in Latin America and the Caribbean, the unemployment rate among women is 10.1 percent, compared to 6.7 percent for men.


Paula Menna Barreto works for Agência Brasil (AB), the official press agency of the Brazilian government. Comments are welcome at lia@radiobras.gov.br


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