Violence against women is the outcome of a well-established patriarchal ideology in Brazil, essentially victimizing thousands every year. One of many faces of this sort of aggression is rape. According to the IPEA (Instituto de Pesquisa Econômica Aplicada- Institute for Applied Economic Research), it’s estimated that in Brazil every year, at least 527 thousand people become victims of sexual assault. But studies have shown that because most women when trying to reach the authorities are not taken seriously due to the prevalent misogyny in this country, only around 10% of these physical assaults are reported to the police authorities.
The victim, when given the chance to report the rape to the police and speak about the violence, is quite often the one to be blamed. The reason for that is the predominant ‘rape culture’ and above all the institutional misogyny that significantly discriminates against women. Studies have shown that nearly 59% of the Brazilian population believes that women can “avoid rape” if they “behave” properly, whereas 26% believe that women wearing revealing clothes deserve to be attacked.
However, it is worth noting that rape in Brazil is by no means only confined to the sexual assault of adults. Recent researches have shown that more than half of the rape victims (50,7%) are less than 13 years old and 70% of them are under the age of 18; a period when a sexual assault can have the worst consequences on the mental health of the victim.
Statistics of sexual violence in Brazil:
-88,5% of the victims of rape are women;
-70% are children and teenagers;
-51% are Latino or black;
-18,8% of the male victims of rape are kids, 6,4% are teenagers and 2,5% are adults;
-46% haven’t graduated from elementary school;
In 2006, a law called “Lei Maria da Penha” (Act no 11,340) was passed. The law aims at increasing the rigor of punishment on domestic crimes committed against women, since the previous laws weren’t capable of resolving the numerous cases of domestic violence, including physical and/or psychological violence.
In the two years following the inauguration of the Maria da Penha law, the number of murders of women because of gender violence decreased, but started to increase again during the last few years; this law and “Women Police Stations” (police stations focused on resolving cases of violence women experience), aren’t enough to end this phenomenon, or even support the women in those -extreme- situations. Many women have to face serious degradations and discriminations, when seeking help in Women Police Stations. Many times the Maria da Penha law neither helps them nor resolves their cases. That’s one of the reasons why some women are afraid to seek help, with many still suffering in abusive relationships. In some cases, they do not even knowing how to identify abusive behavior.
Furthermore, the law is not specific about cases of domestic violence that men experience. Nevertheless, the Judge can, use the law to defend men that have suffered from sexual assault. However, most men in this situation, don’t to report the assault, likely because of chauvinistic stereotypes that declare men as strong and invulnerable.
But how can we improve this situation? How can we make sure that gender violence will stop altogether someday? How can men women help themselves mutually? How can misogyny be prevented? Education is the key. This means learning beyond the school curriculum, educating ourselves about misogyny, racism, homophobia, consent, relations of power, and many other things. Privileges are almost inevitable, and everyone can be privileged somehow – it doesn’t make you a bad person. However, abusing one’s power to silence people who go through things that you do not, does make you a bad person. Don’t silence people when they talk about the violence they face in their lives, listen to us! Listen and understand women when they talk about sexual assault and misogyny, listen and understand colored individuals when they talk about racism, and do not try to put your voice above theirs; most men in our society don’t have to be afraid of giving voice to their concerns, but women in many countries still are deprived of their rights of making themselves heard. Feminism, the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities, can be such a uniting movement that helps effect this change in the world for both men and women.
So listen to us, use your voice in society to help us. Remember: if you really want to change something, the first step is to understand that you’re part of the problem, yet you can also be a part of the solution.