It’s International Women’s Day on Sunday, and Her Stories is highlighting a bevy of stories about women and their lives. We’re starting with a heavy topic this week.
Femicide, or women being killed because they are women, has been in the news in recent years. France debated last year whether to add the term to its penal code during its monthslong nationwide conversation on domestic violence. United Nations homicide studies have found killings by domestic partners are often underreported.
HuffPost Brazil is highlighting the topic too, five years after the country passed its Femicide Act, which aimed to lower the rate of femicide by increasing penalties for the crime. Editor Andréa Martinelli and reporter Marcella Fernandes spoke with women who are desperately trying to avoid becoming another statistic in Brazil.
Luisa, 33, who is being identified by a pseudonym due to safety concerns, left a violent five-year relationship in June. She initially got a restraining order against her ex, but she let the order languish after they got back together. She had to get another restraining order after she decided to leave again with her 1-year-old son.
“On that day [that I decided to leave], he told me he only wouldn’t kill me right then and there because our son was in the room,” she told HuffPost Brazil. “From that point on, I said to myself: ‘I can’t trust this man any longer.’”
Luisa eventually ended up in a “house shelter,” a secret place some Brazilian states offer for victims. Women can stay in one for up to three months, but the facilities can feel isolating — residents aren’t allowed to bring cellphones in case they’re being tracked, and the shelters don’t offer many activities for women or their children.
Andréa tells me she is always surprised to hear how often women get trapped in the cycle of violence, even though she has covered the topic for years. “After all,” she says, “the aggressor is the father of their children and the man they chose to love.”
She also notes that experts have advised taking an intersectional look at femicide since race is often a factor in the crime. According to the Brazilian Yearbook of Public Security, 1,206 women were victims of femicide in 2018, and 61% of them were classified as Black.
Despite the attention femicide has received in Brazil and elsewhere in recent years, Andréa worries the discussions and changes in the justice system just aren’t enough. “If there are no public and educational policies that, in fact, change this culture that perpetuates gender asymmetry in relationships, this scenario will not change,” she says.
Read on for more stories of empowering women, and feel free to tell us how you’re honoring International Women’s Day.
Until next time,
Sara Bondioli, editor, HuffPost U.S.
Readers of Portuguese can follow Andréa Martinelli (@deamartinelli) and Marcella Fernandes (@marcella_fnd) for more stories on women, politics and LGBTQ issues, and HuffPost Brazil (@huffpostbrasil) for more topics affecting the country.
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) for the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
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