Domestic violence in Brazil
Brazilian law prohibits domestic violence, and the government has taken steps that specifically address violence against women and spousal abuse. On August 7, 2006, President Lula signed the Law of Domestic and Family Violence. The law triples previous punishments for those convicted of such crimes, and also creates special courts in all states to preside over these cases. It is also the first official codification of domestic violence crimes.
UN Special Rapporteur Leandro Despouy noted a tendency to blame the victims of these offenses. According to government officials and NGO workers, the majority of criminal complaints regarding domestic violence were suspended inconclusively.
The government acted to combat violence against women. Each state secretariat for public security operated delegacias da mulher (DEAM). These police stations are dedicated exclusively to addressing crimes against women. The quality of services varied widely, and availability was particularly limited in isolated areas. The stations provided psychological counseling, temporary shelter, and hospital treatment for victims of domestic violence and rape (including treatment for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases). The stations also provided assistance to prosecution of criminal cases by investigating and forwarding evidence to the courts. According to the Ministry of Justice, while many of the DEAMs fell far short of standards and lacked strategies to protect victims after the reports were filed, they nevertheless served to raise public awareness of crimes against women.
In July 2006 the first DEAM, in Rio de Janeiro reported that it registered 22 complaints daily. The DEAM noticed an increase in violent cases reported from 5,169 in 2001, to 8,049 in 2005. In March 2006, the Women's Station in the Federal District had 4,561 violent cases reported in 2005, representing a 12.5 percent increase from the year before. During the year, the DEAMs registered a total of 16,564 complaints in the city of Rio de Janeiro. Edna Araujo, Chief and Coordinator for Police Affairs, reported that the large increase in comparison to 2005 was due to the increase in number of new DEAMs opened during the year.
The federal government continued to operate a toll-free hotline to address complaints of violence against women. The law requires health facilities to contact the police regarding cases in which a woman was harmed physically, sexually, or psychologically.