On March 8th, the world celebrates the In-ernational Woman Day. In Brazil, sad statistics remind that women still have a lot to fight against. The alarming prevalence of gender-based murders of women has concerned the government, nonprofit organizations and activists. Just in the beginning of this year, 126 women have been murdered in the country. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) expressed Deep Concern over gender-based killings of women in Brazil and is calling on authorities to implement comprehensive strategies to prevent these acts, fulfill its obligation to investigate, prosecute and punish those responsible, as well as to offer protection and comprehensive reparation to all victims.
According to publicly available information, 126 gender-based murders of women and 67 attempts have been reported so far in 2019. These reports refer to cases registered in 159 cities of the country, distributed in 26 states of Brazil. According to data from the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), 40% of all murders of women in both regions occur in Brazil. According to media reports, in the state of Rio de Janeiro, an average of 300 women are murdered each year and in the state of São Paulo alone, from January to November last year, 377 women were murdered.
The Commission notes with concern that in most cases, the murdered women had previously denounced their aggressors, faced serious acts of domestic violence, or suffered previous attacks or attempted homicides. Similarly, the IACHR warns that in many of these cases the aggressors were or had been partners of the victims, that almost half of the homicides of women in Brazil are committed by firearms and that, in most cases, they occur in their own homes.
“The murders of women are the most extreme form of violence and discrimination against them and represent a flagrant violation of their human rights,” said Commissioner Antonia Urrejola, IACHR Rapporteur for Brazil. “We see with concern the prevalence of murders of women, as well as the tragic consequences that attempted murders have for the victims and their families, as well as the profound psychological, emotional and physical effects that these aggressions entail,” added the Commissioner.
The IACHR emphasizes that the murders of women are not an isolated problem and are symptomatic of a pattern of gender violence against women that affects the entire country, the result of sexist values deeply rooted in Brazilian society. Similarly, the Commission warns of the increased risks faced by women who are particularly vulnerable because of their ethnic or racial origin, their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity, their situation of mobility, those living in conditions of poverty, women journalists, women involved in politics and women human rights defenders. During the on-site visit to the country in November 2018, the IACHR particularly warned of the existence of intersections between violence, racism and machismo, reflected in the generalized increase in homicides of black women. Likewise, the Commission is concerned about the social tolerance that persists in the face of these events, as well as the impunity that continues to surround these serious cases.
“The approval of the Law typifying femicide in Brazil represented a fundamental step to make visible the discriminatory character of the murders of women based on their gender. However, it is now essential to strengthen prevention and protection measures,” said Comissioner Margarette May Macaulay, President of the IACHR and Rapporteur for Women’s Rights. “It is inadmissible that women with protection orders are murdered, that they do not have sufficient shelters or that their complaints are not properly taken into consideration. Gender-based violence against women is a matter of real gravity and the authorities, from the highest level, must attend to it with the utmost seriousness and urgency,” concluded the President.