Home Institution

Washington University in St Louis

Publication Date

Spring 2008

Program Name

Brazil: Culture, Development, and Social Justice


This study attempts to focus on the issue of how violence against women is combated in Brazil through interviewing the women who work at the Delegacia de Defesa da Mulher and the Centro de Referência da Mulher. I attempt to compare and contrast the policies and procedures of these two institutions, as well as the opinions of the women who work there, to understand how they reflect and/or resist feminist theory values. As the basis of this analysis, I am using feminist domestic violence theory, which states that the cause of domestic violence is rooted in sexism and patriarchal power and control. In bell hooks´ words, to understand violence against women one must accept that, “…domestic violence is the direct outcome of sexism, that it will not end until sexism ends…it requires challenging and changing fundamental ways of thinking about gender” (62). The goal of the research is to understand the relationship to and vision of this feminism through the eyes of the women in each institution so as to evaluate the status of feminism in the fight against domestic violence in Brazil. This study provides evidence that suggests that various definitions of feminism are alive and at work in both institutions in complex and differing ways, and that Lei Maria da Penha has had an enormous impact on the way that the professionals express their feminism, principally in the Delegacia de Defesa da Mulher.


Gender and Sexuality | Latin American Studies | Social Control, Law, Crime, and Deviance


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