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Femicide in Brazil: hatred and contempt for women

Regarding developed countries, in Brazil 48 times more women are murdered than in the United Kingdom, 24 times more than in Denmark and 16 times more than Japan or Scotland. In 2019 the number of cases rose exponentially compared to the previous year.  


Osvaldo Cardosa


On 28th April, a young pregnant woman was found dead on barren land in Perus, the northern region of Sao Paulo. Diana Pereira da Trinidade, aged 24, had been murdered by builder Aias de Souza Silva, aged 35.

Cases of this type are marked as femicide.

Femicide is a term that the South African activist, Diana E. H. Russell, used in 1976 before the International Tribunal on Crimes against Women and which she defined as “the murder of women by men motivated by hatred, contempt, pleasure or a sense of ownership of women.”

According to studies, one in every three women could suffer from abuse and violence during her life.

Brazil is in fifth place (behind El Salvador, Colombia, Guatemala and Russia) in the world ranking of femicides from 84 nations, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Regarding developed countries, in Brazil 48 times more women are killed than in the United Kingdom, 24 times more than Denmark and 16 times more than Japan or Scotland. The number of cases of femicide in 2019 rose exponentially compared to the previous year.

According to figures from the Department of Public Safety, cases increased by 76% in the first three months of 2019.

In the first three months of this year, 37 women suffered femicide in the state of Sao Paulo, while there had been 21 in 2018. At least eight of every ten of those crimes in 2019 happened inside the home.

The main victims of this scourge in Brazil are black women and young women, aged between 18 and 30 years. Statistics from the Map of Violence reveal that the murder rate of black women increased by 54% in 10 years. The number of crimes against white women, in exchange, fell by 10% in the same period.

Cases revealed

Other cases, divulged in the press, reveal that, in January, 126 women died and 67 survived femicide attempts, in 90 cities and 21 states in Brazil. Bearing in mind those reported in February, the number surpassed 200 victims.

A study by the newspaper Folha de São Paulo, based on the investigation by Professor Jefferson Nascimento, from the University of Sao Paulo (USP), revealed that 71% of crimes were committed by partners or ex-partners.

Bladed weapons were used in 41% of transgressions, whilst firearms represented 23%. In total, 47% occurred inside the home of the victim.

Such events are alarming, when Jair Bolsonaro’s government wants to make owning a firearm easier.

“Freedom to carry weapons places women in a much higher situation of risk because the majority of cases of femicide happen specifically within their own home and are committed by people known to them and supposedly trusted by the victim,” warned Raquel Dias, treasurer of the National Union of the Faculty of Institutions of Higher Education (Andes-SN).

From 9th March 2015, Brazilian legislation planned more serious sanctions for homicides that fit the definition of femicide.

The law considered this type of infraction as an atrocious crime, with a sentence of 12 to 30 years in prison.

The most common cases of these murders happen for reasons of separation. Many of the deceased women had already received threats or were constantly attacked. The aggressors felt validated and believed they had reasons to kill, blaming the victim.

The United Nations alleges that the most common incitement for the aggressors entails a sense of ownership of the woman, control over her body, desire and autonomy, limitation of her freedom (professional, financial, social or intellectual) and contempt for her gender. (PL)

(Translated by Donna Davison – Email:

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