Since the start of 2019, four women have been killed daily in Brazil — and human rights leaders want the South American country to tackle the gender violence crisis more aggressively.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), the human rights arm of the 35-member Organization of American States, described the deaths as “alarming” and stressed that more needs to be done to combat violence against women at its roots.
“The commission calls on the Brazilian State 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,” the Washington-based IACHR said in a statement.
In 2015, Brazil, joining nations across Latin America, took its first major step to address the growing killing of women, passing a law that gave a legal definition to the crime — femicide — and instituting jail sentences for convicted offenders up to 30 years.
But, nearly five years later, IACHR is calling for the Brazilian government to do more, particularly in strengthening prevention and protection measures.
“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,” Commissioner Margarette May, IACHR’s president and rapporteur for women’s rights, said.
According to Human Rights Watch, while Brazil, the largest country in Latin America, has a population of more than 200 million, there are only 74 shelters for survivors of domestic violence in the nation.
IACHR added that many of the fatal victims of gender violence in Brazil, disproportionately Black, Indigenous and queer women, are often shot dead in their own homes by current or former intimate partners who have a history of abuse.
“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,” the IACHR said.
With Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s far-right president who has been compared to Donald Trump, taking office last month, activists are concerned the matter won’t be wholly addressed. As a candidate in 2018, Bolsonaro, who has already renamed the existing ministry of human rights to the ministry of women, family and human rights, combining indigenous rights with women’s issues, was the only person running for president who did not denounce the murder of Rio de Janeiro councilwoman and Afro-Brazilian defender of human rights Marielle Franco.