A study entitled "The Brazilian Women in the Public and Private Spheres" drawn up by the Perseu Abramo Foundation in 2001 found that women are the victims of violence no matter what their social status or age.
The study also pointed out that one of the main problems in dealing with violence against women is that women are reluctant to denounce their aggressors.
"Before the Perseu Abramo study it was believed that most violence against women involved people with little education and low incomes," explains Cecilia Soares of the Rio de Janeiro Center for Integrated Assistance for Women.
"There was also the problem of characterizing violence. Psychological violence was not understood, with most people believing that a women had to be beaten up, stabbed or shot to be a real victim of violence."
"Another problem is rape. Brazilian culture does not accept the possibility of a woman being raped by her husband, so if a woman resists many people think she is wrong.
"Rape is a crime that can occur in or out of a marriage and women have a right to defend themselves. The police have to remember this and women must be aware of this fact as well," says Soares.
As part of commemorations of International Women’s Day (Dia Internacional da Mulher), in Brasilia, representatives of women’s organizations met with the Minister of Justice, Márcio Thomaz Bastos. They discussed the problems of violence and impunity in Brazil.
Demonstrators gathered on the mall in front of the Congress to protest impunity and demand more respect for human life . They unrolled a huge patchwork quilt with the names of people who have recently been assassinated in Brazil.
At the same time, a group of mothers of victims of violence delivered a petition with 1.2 million signatures to the president of the Chamber of Deputies, Aldo Rebelo calling for changes in the country’s Penal Code.
Other representatives of the demonstrators called on the Supreme Court to reverse a recent ruling that lessened penalties for certain violent crimes.