1.5 million black women are victims of domestic violence in Brazil, reveals unpublished analysis

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Note from BW of Brazil: Shameful. Outrageous. Horrific. But yet not surprising! In a society that has devalued women of visible African descent for nearly five centuries, today’s report is simply a reflection of the brutality that has been the existence of this parcel of the population for so long. The following report is just another reminder of the harsh realities that black women face in Brazil. A recent report we posted only a few days ago provided yet another painful reminder of this reality. According to that report, in the last 10 years, while the homicide rate of white women fell by 9.8% percent, for black women it rose 54%. Naturally there will always be those who ask “why are you always making an issue of race?” Let’s be clear about something. The lives and treatment of white and other non-black women are just as valuable as the lives of black women. But the simple fact that society needs to face is that everything in regards to human beings attracts more attention or more sympathy when it is wrapped in white skin (1). And if we see this as a factor in the way the lives of poor black male youth in the periphery of major cities are disregarded by the society, we cannot ignore such a factor when considering the views of the same society toward the lives of black women. With this and so many other reports demonstrating the status of black Brazilian women, is there any wonder that 20,000 or so black women will march on the nation’s capital next week? 

1.5 million black women are victims of domestic violence in Brazil, reveals unpublished R7 analysis

They represent 60% of the 2.4 million assaulted. Report analyzed IBGE microdata

By Alvaro Magalhães


Black women are the greatest victims of domestic violence in Brazil. They represent 60% of persons assaulted by acquaintances: in one year, totaling 1.5 million.

The result was obtained by R7 after an analysis of microdata in the last Pesquisa Nacional de Saúde (National Health Survey) of the IBGE (Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística or Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics) published between the end of last year and August of this year.

Accounts of women who were 18 years of age or more considered. The answers refer to aggression that occurred during the year 2013. The complete survey is in the table below (check the numbers at the end of this report).


Author of the study Tramas e dramas de gênero e de cor: a violência doméstica e familiar contra mulheres negras (Traumas and dramas of gender and color: domestic and family violence against black women), sociologist Bruna Cristina Jaquetto Pereira, a researcher at UnB (University of Brasilia) says that the quantification of cases is sometimes the only way to see how racism affects the rate of assaults on women.

“It has been very little investigated how gender violence and racism act together. In various characteristics, violence [against white women and against black women] is similar. But when looking at the quantity, at the total of cases, we realize how the racial issue is present.”

The data indicate that among black women, 3.75% suffer aggression by people they knew for over a year. Among white women, the rate is 2.56%. Overall, women’s rate is 3.14%. The indices are well above the 1.84% relative to the male population.


Bruna Cristina draws attention to the fact that, in the case of femicide, there is also no difference. A study the Ministério da Justiça (Ministry of Justice) shows that the homicide rate among black women (7.2 per 100,000 inhabitants) is more than double that among white women (3.2 per 100 thousand inhabitants).

“And this difference is increasing. So this racial aspect of violence against women has been pronounced and tends to become increasingly visible.”

President of the Geledés Black Women’s Institute, lawyer Sylvia Maria Aparecida de Oliveira attributes the fact that black women are the greatest victims to the intersections of prejudice.

“A black woman suffers oppression as a woman and suffers oppression for being black. That’s history. In addition, black women are at the base of the social pyramid: she has the worst levels of health, education, salary etc. This makes the society give little attention to the issue.”


The sociologist Bruna Cristina, of UnB, says the position of the black woman in society also makes treatment to them less intense.

“This also impacts on access to police and protection systems that end up not being as effective in tending to the black woman.”

Once a week

Considering all women, regardless of race/color, the total number of victims of domestic violence in the country reached 2.4 million. One in five of them had bodily injuries (21%) and stopped practicing some daily activity (22%) because of the aggression.

About 285,000 victims (12%) were assaulted at least once a week.

The first woman to join the state’s judiciary, the retired federal judge Maria Berenice Dias says the state must empower employees to make it easier for women to report violence suffered daily.

“To break this cycle is complicated for women. There is a threat, there are a number of fears. And when they decide to report they often don’t find a team waiting for her. The women’s police stations in general don’t work 24 hours a day. In the absolute majority of the cities, the court does not have specialized courts in domestic violence. Then the woman gives up on her complaint. But often she give ups because the state didn’t find the answer she needed.”

The data also show that attackers generally do not need weapons: after words (54%), which can range from a curse to a death threat, physical force (35%) is the most used means for committing violence. Knives, sticks and other objects of the type are used in 6%; and firearms, in 1%.

The data also indicate that while the most common place of violence is the home of the victim (64%), there are a considerable number of aggressions committed in public places, such as the street, and school (together, these places total 30%).

Partner and former partner

Among women who live with a partner, the most common perpetrator is the partner (26%), followed by friends (11%) and siblings (also 11%). Among single women, the main aggressor is the former partner (24%), followed by a current partner (who may be her boyfriend) (18%) and friends (12%).

Professor at PUC-São Paulo, psychologist Leandro Andrade Feitosa works with groups of men offenders referred to the Court in São Paulo. He claims that one of the causes of domestic violence is a “disagreement” about the social roles of men and women.

“There are several ways to explain this issue. But I think one can say that there is this disagreement in gender relations. Women are emancipated and parts of the men don’t accept this. They still seek that hierarchical relationship. This causes a conflict and when they don’t find other ways to resolve this conflict, it turns into aggression.”

Maria da Penha

The experts consulted by R7 praised the Maria da Penha Law, which completes ten years in 2016, but pointed out the need to apply educational measures.

Retired federal judge Maria Berenice says that in places where there are no specialized courts, cases involving domestic violence should be dealt with by the Vara da Família (Family Court).

“The criminal judges are not qualified to meet this kind of demand. They think there are more important crimes, there are felonies. And there’s the problem of the prescription. So the cases connected to the Maria da Penha Law are being postponed until they are prescribed. In addition, most of the protective measures are a matter of family law, not criminal law.”

Professor Feitosa, of PUC-SP, says that the judiciary could apply corrective measures in cases related to the Maria da Penha Law.

“The pure and simple punishment does not prevent recurrence. It’s necessary to change the offending behavior. In our groups, we sought, for example, to point out that there are other ways to solve different conflicts of aggression. This has had a significant result. The recurrence falls.”

Sociologist Bruna Cristina, of UnB, highlights the need for educational measures.

“It is no wonder that the Maria da Penha Law is well known. It founded a new moment in combating violence against women. And I think that even men react to this empowerment. On the other hand, it is important that there is progress on the issue of education so that we continue advancing and having a transformation not only in the justice system, but in society at large.”

Lawyer Maria Sylvia, of Geledés, suggests that women’s police stations remain open on weekends.

“It’s on Saturday and Sunday that violence against women intensifies. So it’s important that the police who are more specialized are working on these days.”

Sylvia also adds that the state should encourage more scientific research on the situation of black women in order that the debate on violence against them intensifies.

“Currently, there are studies. But there could be more. And more than that, these studies need to be better publicized. In general, they circulate only among members of the Movimento Negro (black movement). But racism and the situation of black women is not only their problem, or just that of the black population. It’s everyone’s.”


Domestic Violence against Women in Brazil

X-Ray of the aggression cases against women done by R7 from the microdata of the National Research on Health, of the IBGE

2.4 million women suffer aggressions at the hands of acquaintances in the period of one year

950 thousand are white women, 1.5 million are black women, 22 thousand are indigenous or Asian women


Violence by state: Percentage of women assaulted by acquaintances in relation to the total female population

The most severe aggression: psychological, sexual, physical, other

21% had bodily injuries because of aggression

22% stopped practicing some daily activity because of the aggression


Once – Twice – Three to Six Times – Seven to Twelve Times – At least Once Per Month – At least Once per Week – Almost Daily

Location: Residence, Public, Work, School or College, Bar, Other

Weapon: Verbal aggression, Physical Force, Knives and other Sharp Object, Firearm, Other


Among married women – Among single women

Companion – friend or colleague, brother, son, boss, ex-companion, mother or father, stepfather or stepmother

Source: R7


  1. Examples of such white-skinned privileges have been numerous on this blog. For examples, see here, here, here or here for just a few examples.

About Marques Travae 3747 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.

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