Women in Brazil: So Protected Still So Abused

Brazilian mother with her babyWomen are granted by the Brazilian Constitution with an impressive quantity of ‘fundamental’ rights. The Constitution fully recognizes the equal value of both sexes, manifesting for their equality of basic rights and obligations before the law.

In its Article 5, provision XLI, the Brazilian Constitution says that it is an obligation of the state to promote the welfare of everyone without sexual discrimination.

In relation to matters of labour law, it is good to remember that women have more rights than men, as Article 7 establishes special rights for them, including an earlier retirement and protection at the job market.

Whereas the Brazilian Constitution says that everyone possesses the same legal rights, ordinary legislation has provided penalties of prison and fine against sexist behaviour, including the use of pejorative term against women.

The law has even established special police stations for women, offering them relevant services like psychological counselling for victims of domestic violence, hospital treatment for victims of rape, and investigation of crimes against women.

Thus the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights regards the Brazilian model of legislation, particularly in what it says about ‘gender-specific police station’, as ‘unprecedented’ and an ‘influential model’ to be imitated by all other nations.(1)

Despite of what the law describes, everybody knows that violence against women has occurred with an utmost frequency. According to the United Nations (UN), Brazilian women are ‘frequently exposed’ to sexual victimization.

A document released in 2004 by the UN-Habitat reveals that Brazil has one of the highest levels of incidents described as rape, attempted rape, and indecent assault against women. What is worst, the report suggests that such crimes are normally underreported, with perpetrators unlikely to be punished.(2)

The vast majority of criminal complaints related to violence against women are suspended without their final conclusion.

In 2002, the World Organization Against Torture (WOAT) reported that only 2 percent of all complaints involving acts of violence against women led to any sort of conviction.

For the cases resulting in conviction, the WOAT comments that punishment for heinous crimes like first-degree murder and rape are ‘very light’.(3)

In regard to working rights, the Brazilian Constitution has forbidden salary differentiation between both sexes, although, as a matter of legal fact, it actually upholds a ‘positive discrimination’ in favour of women.

As mentioned earlier, women have been granted with special constitutional rights which include, among others, three months of paid maternity leave and legal protection against dismissal for pregnancy.

In practice, however, the Organization of American States (OAS) has reported that women bearing children can be dismissed regardless of legislation to the contrary.

The same report suggests that some employers have illegally required ‘proof of sterilization’ as a basic condition for women to be employed.(4)

Finally, the OAS says in its official document that even the government itself recognized that the average salary of women is 54% below of what is normally paid for male counterparts at similar level of education and qualification.(5)

References:

(1) Organization of American States; Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Brazil. Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, 1997. http://www.cidh.oas.org/countryrep/brazil-eng/index%20-%20brazil.htm

(2) UN-Habitat; State of the World’s Cities: Trends in Latin America & the Carribean. 2004. http://www.unhabitat.org/mediacentre/documents/sowc/RegionalLAC.pdf

(3) U.S. Department of State; Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – Brazil. Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labour, February 25, 2004. http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2003/27888.htm

(4) Organization of American States; Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Brazil. , Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, 1997. http://www.cidh.oas.org/countryrep/brazil-eng/index%20-%20brazil.htm

(5) Organization of American States; Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Brazil. , Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, 1997. http://www.cidh.oas.org/countryrep/brazil-eng/index%20-%20brazil.htm

Augusto Zimmermann is a Brazilian Law Professor and PhD candidate for Monash University – Faculty of Law, in Australia. The topic of his research is the (un)rule of law and legal culture in Brazil. He holds a LL.B and a LL.M (Hons.) from the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro. Among others, he has published many articles in several languages and countries, and two law books on the subject of democratic federalism and constitutional law. His e-mail is: augustozimmermann@hotmail.com.

Tags:

  • Show Comments (0)

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

comment *

  • name *

  • email *

  • website *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Ads

You May Also Like

Brazil’s Forest Reserve Gets International Seal of Approval

For the first time a Brazilian forest reserve has received certification from the Forest ...

From Its Annual 175 Million Flip-Flops Brazil Alpargatas Exports 10%

One of the largest Brazilian shoe makers, São Paulo Alpargatas company, intends to triple ...

Snubbed by US Army Brazil’s Embraer Still Wants to Build Military Jets in the US

The board of directors of the Brazilian Aeronautics Company (Embraer) declared its "disappointment over ...

Like Our Parents

Students and their parents have rock as their first musical choice. Leonardo da Vinci ...

OAS Demands that Brazil Stop Treating Juvenile Delinquents as Animals

The situation of 400 adolescents housed in the Federal District’s Specialized Juvenile Care Center ...

After End of Check Tax Brazil Looks for Ways to Fund Anti-Poverty Programs

The administration of Brazil's President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has suffered a major ...

Egyptian Minister and Delegation’s Business Tour Through Brazil

Egypt's minister of Industry and Trade, Rachid Mohamed Rachid, is coming to Brazil this ...

Delta Daily from Atlanta to Rio, Brazil

Whether hitting the famous beaches at Copacabana or Ipanema, ascending the rocky spire of ...

Brazil: Fresh Corruption Charges Bring Lula in Defense of His Finance Minister

Speaking to journalists Thursday night, March 16, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva ...

Brazil President Opens UN General Assembly Warning Against Military Intervention

Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff arrived in New York, Sunday, September 23. According to the ...