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The Brazilian statute against gender violence: the disputes over its application in the Brazilian Courts

Open Panel

Abstract

The paper presents the main results of empirical research on decisions resulted from cases concerning domestic violence in Brazilian Appeal Courts. In August 2006 a law against domestic and gender violence was promulgated in Brazil. It was a result of a long process of discussion in the public sphere and formal institutions that was taking place since 2002, with the active participation of the government itself and a consortium of NGO’s and activists. The new statute changes completely the normative scenario to deal with domestic violence and – nevertheless some critics to its content – can be consider a turning point in the Brazilian legal system on women and gender protections against violence. However, there are some evidences of the resistance from the part of the judges to apply this statute. Controversies about its accordance to the Federal Constitution, as well as questions regarding procedural and institutional issues contributed to raise uncertainties and controversies about the application of the new law. To understand properly what is happening in the Courts, we collected and analyzed all the penal rulings regarding this statute (from 2006 to 2009) handed down by two important Appeal Courts: the Appeal Court of São Paulo and the Appeal Court of Rio Grande do Sul. We examined 1220 decisions altogether and the results brings some important data to evaluate how Courts are reacting to the new legal instrument. It contributes therefore to understand the potential and limitations of the legal instrument and the possible institutional obstacles it has been facing since its enactment.