Brazil: Rape Remains Pervasive Yet Invisible Crime
Thursday, June 27, 2013 10:35 AM

A recent string of public rapes in Brazil have garnered international attention, but advocates say the pervasiveness of the crime remains largely invisible and unaddressed. In 2012, over 6,000 rapes were reported in the state of Rio de Janeiro alone; on average, 416 women were raped each month. Eleuteria da Silva, the coordinator of Casa de Mulher Trabalhadora, a women’s organization in Rio, and other advocates believe it is indicative of the situation across the nation. But due to lack of accurate data, statistics cannot be compared with those of other states, or with national statistics in other countries.
On June 4, the state of Rio passed a law creating an integrated information system to monitor and analyze incidences of violence against women across all 92 municipalities. Inés Pandeló, drafter of the bill and now serving as the Women’s Secretary of the National Union of State Legislatures and Legislators, plans to expand the program to all 26 states in the country in hope that the concerted actions to collect and analyze data will help better target efforts to address the problem.
Over several decades, Brazil has made strides to combat violence against women. It has established police stations with female officers and special courts for prosecuting domestic violence. In 2009, it amended its criminal code to expand the definition of rape and encourage reporting. And, in fact, reporting has increased. The number of rapes reported in the state of Rio increased by 24% from 2011 to 2012. Silva recognizes that the policies exist, but says they are insufficient to deal with the needs.
Compiled from: Ortiz, Fabiola, Rape in Brazil Still an Invisible Crime,” Inter Press Service (24 June 2013); Romero, Simon, Public Rapes Outrage Brazil, Testing Ideas of Image and Class,” N.Y. Times (24 May 2013).