Coronavirus infection or the difficulty of getting a job at a time when unemployment is reaching 14.4 million people in Brazil could be among the biggest concerns of women in the state of São Paulo.
However, at the top of that list is the concern about violence against women that is closely connected with the health and economic crisis.
This is shown in the survey on violence against women conducted by the JUSBarómetro, of the São Paulo Association of Magistrates (Apamagis), released this September. From 1000 interviews with a representative sample of the adult population of women in the state of São Paulo, the study has a confidence level of 95.5%.
According to the survey, 88% of women in São Paulo realize that the problem is increasing and 69% have violence in the home as their main concern.
The house, by the way, is highlighted by 66% of them as the privileged place of aggressions and 63% indicate the former or current partner as the author of the violence.
Covid-19 and gender violence
Vanessa Mateus, president of Apamagis and one of the authors of the research, in an interview with Brasil de Fato highlights that during the coronavirus pandemic, sexist violence intensified.
“There is an increase resulting from the use of alcohol, longer time under the same roof, loss of employment, all of this makes the domestic environment become more explosive”, characterizes the judge in an interview with Brazil in fact.
This is what alerts the Report of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) of March 2021. And also, to return to the context of Brazil, a study by the National Conference of Municipalities that highlights how , during the pandemic, aggressions against women increased 20% in 2,383 Brazilian cities surveyed.
The (little) search for institutional bodies
The lack of demand for official bodies after suffering violence is great, as found by the JUSBarometer. In cases where the interviewees suffered, witnessed or became aware of domestic violence, only 29% chose to seek institutional help.
Although “fear” appeared to 73% of women as the cause for which they do not prioritize official bodies, other data raise relevant elements on this issue.
Among the demands for improvements in public care for women who experience violence, 42% of the women in São Paulo feel a lack of greater empathy and sensitivity on the part of professionals and 40% demand greater training from police officers.
Given these perceptions, it is not surprising that 24% of women in São Paulo – a rate similar to those who go to official bodies – preferred to seek support from people close to them.
Social worker Bia Volpi and psychologist Alinie Georgeto, both from Associação Fala Mulher, highlight the many ways in which women are revictimized after they experience violence.
“For the repression, for the guilt, for the demand to meet the established standards”, they list. Hence, the Association’s members explain, “the need to be on full-time alert as a means of protecting themselves, not only on the street, but also inside their own homes.”
For Vanessa Mateus, more than simply related to the act of filing a complaint, the fear reported by the interviewees stems from a lack of confidence in a prompt institutional response. “The fear of reprisals, of coming back, of recidivism”, exemplifies, when defending that “it is essential that institutions provide answers”.
“A Civilizing Problem”
According to the Brazilian Public Security Forum, just in the first two months of the pandemic in Brazil – March and April 2020 -, feminicides in the State of São Paulo grew 41.4%.
For Volpi and Georgeto, measures to reverse the worsening situation of gender violence involve “work opportunities with salary, health and safety; public policies for women; education with more places for children, safety in communities, assistance for quality in health; and benefits that guarantee the rights of women”.
Also asked about possible paths, the president of Apamagis highlights two that she considers evident.
“The first is for us to listen to the responses of these women who ask for more empathy, sensitivity and training in the service”, she summarizes.
And the second, the broad involvement of the population in the issue. “Whenever we make civil society understand that this is not a family, domestic problem”, argues Vanessa Mateus, “but that this is a civilizing problem, then I’m sure we will improve this structural issue” .
Edition: Anelize Moreira