Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 May 2016, 07:46 GMT

Brazil: Recourse available to women who have been victims of abuse and violence and are being stalked by a male companion or spouse; existence and enforcement of laws against domestic violence

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 20 March 2002
Citation / Document Symbol BRA38669.E
Reference 2
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Brazil: Recourse available to women who have been victims of abuse and violence and are being stalked by a male companion or spouse; existence and enforcement of laws against domestic violence, 20 March 2002, BRA38669.E, available at: [accessed 25 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

According to a 30 November 2001 News From Brazil article from OneWorld, violence against women is a crime under Law 9.099.95 in Brazil. This law considers domestic violence a minor crime which can be punished by such sentences as food donations to the needy or volunteer service (ibid). Furthermore, the article states the following on seeking help:

Usually, women seek a Woman's Police Station after suffering violence to denounce it and to seek help. In the best of worlds, the aggressor is called in for a hearing. However, testimonies by many women indicate that they are so humiliated at the police stations or threatened by their partner that they don't follow through on placing the charge. The DDM (Delegacias da Mulher), Women's Police Stations, were established in Brazil as an effort to criminalize domestic abuse. The first Women's Police Station was installed in 1985 in São Paulo and today there are 307 DDM´s, reaching about 9% of Brazilian cities. Conditions of work at the Women's Police Stations are extremely precarious as indicated by a "National Study Regarding the Conditions and Functioning of the DDM's" (October 2001) that was coordinated by anthropologist Kelly Cristiane da Silva and the National Council for the Rights of Women in partnership with the National Secretary of Public Security. Resources are scarce: only 11% of the delegacies have a social worker or psychologist; in a majority of the cases, training in counselling, mediation and negotiation is not included in the formation of the police officers; 20% do not have a telephone line and only 13% have access to the internet/computer. Fifty-one percent of the police officers say that they do not use specialized police to treat cases of violence against women, and 62% complain about lack of basic information and procedures. Many studies show that a majority of violent crimes against women are committed during the weekend and the period between night-time and dawn. Yet, 77% of the Women's Police Stations do not function 24 hours a day and 76% don't work on the weekends.

The precarious resources are explained by some police as to the low priority that is given to violence against women in the corporate police structures. A large majority of domestic violence cases do not even arrive at the Women's Police Stations. Many times, those cases that do arrive at the stations find attitudes on the part of the police that effectively intimidate the victim, discouraging her from filing a report, or transferring to her the responsibility for the crime.

In the city of São Paulo with a population of 15 million people, there is only one public shelter for women suffering from domestic violence. A number of grassroots women's groups are supporting women victims of domestic violence but the need is staggering. Casa Sofia is a domestic violence center that was founded two years ago to empower women victims of domestic violence and to provide psycho-social counseling, human rights awareness, and legal assistance. Casa Sofia has 15 volunteers and recently received funding from the municipality of São Paulo to establish a toll-free number (0-800) for domestic violence. This is a pilot project and already is receiving hundreds of calls each month (ibid.).

Human Rights Watch World Report 2002 refers to an important decision by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in April 2001, on the domestic violence case of Maria da Penha: "In its ground-breaking decision, the commission found numerous rights violations and recommended that Brazil adopt measures to remedy the problem of state tolerance of domestic violence against women" (2002).

No information on recent changes to domestic violence legislation or state protection could be found among sources consulted by the Research Directorate. For further information on protection available to victims of domestic violence in Brazil, please consult BRA35562.E of 23 October 2000.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Human Rights Watch (HRW). 2001. Human Rights Watch World Report 2002: Brazil [Accessed 9 Mar. 2002]

OneWorld. 30 November 2001. News From Brazil. [Accessed 8 Mar. 2002]

Additional Sources Consulted

IRB Databases

Latin American Regional Reports

Latin American Weekly Report


One unsuccessful attempt at contacting an oral source

Internet sites, including:

Amnesty International

Casa Alianza

International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX)


Internet search engines including:



Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

Search Refworld