Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff signed a new law this week creating harsher penalties for the murder of women and girls connected to domestic violence.
Men who commit the newly defined crime of "femicide," or the killing of a woman by a man because of her gender, can now expect to go to jail for anywhere from 12 years to 20 years. Longer terms have been defined for crimes committed against pregnant women, girls under 14, women over 60, and people with disabilities.
President Rousseff said that 15 women are killed daily in Brazil, and that these new strict policies are aimed at defending Brazilian women. Government figures also show a startling increase of 230 percent in the number of women murdered in Brazil from 1980 to 2010.
"This law typifies femicide as a grave crime and identifies it as a specific crime against women. It's a way to talk about this problem, make it visible by giving it a name and increasing sanctions for this crime," Nadine Gasman, who heads the agency United Nations Women in Brazil, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. "It has taken us a long time to say that the killing of a woman is a different phenomenon. Men are killed in the street, women are killed in the home. Men are killed with guns, women with knives and hands," continued Gasman.
President Rousseff has demonstrated a particular commitment to the women of the Brazil since taking office in 2011. In 2013, she signed legislation requiring all public hospitals to provide rape victims with certain treatment, including emergency contraception, and screening and treatment for STIs and HIV.
Media Resources: Reuters 3/10/15; BBC 3/9/15; IPS 8/2/13