Domestic violence victims denied justice: state of Roraima fails to investigate, prosecute abusers
June 21, 2017
The authorities in the Brazilian state of Roraima are failing to investigate or prosecute domestic violence cases, leaving women at further risk of abuse, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The serious problems in Roraima, the state with the highest rate of killings of women in Brazil, reflect nationwide failures to provide victims of domestic violence with access to justice and protection.
Killings of women rose 139 percent from 2010 to 2015 in Roraima, reaching 11.4 homicides per 100,000 women that year, the latest for which there is data available. The national average is 4.4 killings per 100,000 women—already one of the highest in the world. Studies in Brazil and worldwide estimate that a large percentage of women who suffer violent deaths are killed by partners or former partners.
Only a quarter of women who suffer violence in Brazil report it, according to a February 2017 survey that does not provide state-by-state data. Human Rights Watch found in Roraima that when women do call police they face considerable barriers to having their cases heard. Military police told Human Rights Watch that, for lack of personnel, they do not respond to all emergency calls from women who say they are experiencing domestic violence. Other women are turned away at police stations. Some civil police officers in Boa Vista, the state´s capital, decline to register domestic violence complaints or to request protection orders. Instead, they direct victims to the single “women’s police station” in the state – which specializes in crimes against women – even at times when that station is closed. Even when police receive their complaints, women must tell their story of abuse, including sexual abuse, in open reception areas, as there are no private rooms to take statements in any police station in the state.
Not a single civil police officer in Roraima receives training in how to handle domestic violence cases. Some police officers, when receiving women seeking protection orders, take statements so carelessly that judges lack the basic information they need to decide whether to issue the order. Civil police are unable to keep up with the volume of complaints they do receive. In Boa Vista, the police have failed to do investigative work on a backlog of 8,400 domestic violence complaints.
(Human Rights Watch. www.hrw.org/news/2017/06/21/ brazil-domestic-violence-victims-denied-justice. Adaptado)
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