A woman is beaten every 15 seconds in Brazil, which means that 2.1 million women are beating victims each year. This finding by the Perseu Abramo Foundation is the portrait of domestic violence in the country. The least secure place for a woman is often her own home.
The data are from the non-governmental organization (NGO) Agende – Actions on Gender, Citizenship, and Development. This organization has spearheaded a 16-day global campaign of activism to end violence against women at the end of last year, in 130 countries.
A famous case in Brazil concerns a woman from the state of Ceará, Maria da Penha Fernandes. In 1983, after suffering several murder attempts by her then husband, Fernandes was left paraplegic.
After 15 years of waiting fruitlessly for a ruling from the Brazilian judicial system, she filed suit against the country with the Inter-American Human Rights Commission.
In 2001, for the first time in history, the Brazilian State was judged guilty of negligence, omission, and tolerance with respect to domestic violence.
The government’s policy in support of women who are victims of aggression is currently operating in all Brazilian states. The Shelter House project, for example, already has 72 units installed throughout the country. 54 of them are functioning.
"Shelter House is an unpublicized project that offers a haven to women, children, and adolescents who are victims of domestic violence in situations of risk," explains the director of the Shelter House in the Federal District, the lawyer Andréa Vasquez.
Vasquez relates that the women assisted by the Shelter Houses are generally 18-28 years old and only report their aggressors eight to ten years after suffering the first act of violence.
Most of them come from the lower class and manifest a variety of emotional disturbances. The aggressors are normally companions, husbands, or, in the case of children, stepfathers.