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Domestic violence in Brazil remains widespread despite tougher law

(Xinhua)

14:53, August 08, 2012

RIO DE JANEIRO, Aug. 7 (Xinhua) -- Six years after tougher laws were introduced in Brazil to stiffen the punishment for spousal abuse, thousands of women across the country continue to suffer from domestic violence each day, the government said Tuesday.

According to official figures, a national emergency hotline set up exclusively for cases of domestic violence cases has handled 2.7 million calls since 2006 and it received an average of 2,150 calls a day in the first half of this year alone.

While 60 percent of calls were from women, who just asked for information about the Maria da Penha Law, named after a victim of domestic violence, some 329,500 cases of violence have been reported through the hotline in the past six years.

"The figures are still alarming, however. I want to stress that the Maria da Penha Law has increased awareness of these crimes," Brazilian Women's Policies Minister Eleonora Menicucci said.

"It's time to stop impunity, it's time to act with severity," Menicucci said, calling for quicker responses from the courts so that the law could been applied more effectively.

In 70 percent of domestic violence cases, the aggressor is the victim's current husband, partner or boyfriend, while in the rest, the aggressor is a former partner or husband, a neighbor or a stranger.

Brazil's Maria da Penha Law was approved on Aug. 7, 2006, which toughened the punishment for abuse of women.

It was named after a Brazilian woman who was paralyzed from waist down after her husband shot her in 1983. The law was created to ensure women's safety and protect them from violence.

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