Brazilians view Maria da Penha Act as ineffective, survey reveals
In the month that celebrates women’s rights, the Confidence in Brazilian Justice Index (ICJBrasil), developed by FGV’s Sao Paulo Law School (Direito SP), examined aspects related to the Maria da Penha Act. The law was passed in 2006 to bolster protection mechanisms for women against domestic and family violence.
The main finding is that most of the 1,650 respondents across eight states consider the law little or not effective at all to protect women from violence. That is the opinion of 80% of respondents: 53% believe that the law only provides some protection, while 27% believe the law does not provide any protection at all. Only 18% said that the Maria da Penha Act provides a lot of protection.
This percentage varies significantly between states. Distrito Federal and Bahia have the largest percentage of respondents who said that the law is not very protective of women’s rights (63% and 61%, respectively). On the other hand, Pernambuco is the state where this percentage is lowest (39%).
The survey also wanted to assess the population’s knowledge of the law and found that 86% of the respondents claim to know the law. Of this total, 61% stated that they knew little about it and 25% claimed to know a lot about the law. In this regard, São Paulo was the state with the highest percentage of respondents with poor knowledge of the Maria da Penha Act (71% of respondents), compared to 42% in Rio de Janeiro.
Regarding the solution recommended to those suffering from family violence, going to the women’s precinct comes in second place (31% of respondents), behind calling the police or seeking a regular police station (40% of respondents). Turning to relatives or churches and religious centers corresponds to 10% of respondents.
According to ICJBrasil Coordinator Luciana Ramos, these answers show that additional mechanisms to protect women’s rights are still required.
“The Maria da Penha Act was very important step forward in recent years, but we still have a long way to go. We need to broaden the safety net, creating more women’s precincts, and qualifying the support channels for situations of violence”.