Brazil: Violence against Women and Information Communication Technologies

4 November 2009

By Ingrid Leao, Thais Lapa and Tamara Amoroso

Read the English abstract of the paper below. Full paper is available in Spanish.

For every 100 women murdered in Brazil, 70 were killed in their homes, and 66 of them by their spouses, partners or boyfriends. Forty percent of the violence women suffer leaves serious physical consequences. The Interamerican Convention against Violence against Women (1993), that was passed in a Brazilian city, Berem do Para, and the Brazilian Maria da Penha Law changed society's and the courts' perspective on violence against women (VAW). From then on, VAW has been taken seriously in Brazil, slowly overcoming patriarchal perspectives, discrimination and prejudices. The state now provides VAW prevention measures, and dignified support and protection for survivors and their children.

Thirty-four percent of Brazil's population regularly uses the internet (approximately 65 million people), but cell phones are even more common (82 cell phones per 100 people). According to statistics, people spend more time connected to the internet in Brazil than in any other country, an average of 25 hours per month. Brazil's broadcasting law contemplates radio and TV while a separate telecommunications law refers to satellites and cyberspace. VAW in media is discussed in the report, with examples of advertisements and TV shows. The first National Conference on Communications will be held in December 2009, where government, civil society and media companies will discuss communications issues. Social movements have high expectations regarding this national debate. Social networks like Orkut and Twitter are popular in Brazil and there are denouncements of VAW practices, like cyber-bullying teenage girls. But ICTs are also used for prevention and assistance of VAW survivors and government services and police maintain assistance phone networks using ICTs. Twitter and Orkut have also been used for anti-VAW campaigns.

Main recommendations for action:

There are recommendations for government: to use ICTs to prevent VAW, to enhance women´s rights by their own use of ICTs to communicate if they suffer violence, to use ICTs for assisting survivors (hotlines, counseling by phone or the internet, etc.) There are also recommendations to government to increase digital inclusion in the country.

For social movements, recommendations include ICT strategic use to prevent violence and assist survivors, for campaigning, research, identifying prevention mechanisms, etc. The prevention of VAW should also be included in social movements´agendas.

Recommendations for the APC WNSP include working with Brazilian organisations on several gender and ICT issues, already discussed in APC WNSP main documents and papers: access, control, education, training and skills development.

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