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The Maria da Penha Law and the Media: Understanding the Adoption of Human Rights Norms on Domestic Violence in Brazil

Winbraham, Marina

In 2006, Brazil enacted a law on domestic violence in response to an Inter-American Commission on Human Rights decision condemning the country for denying justice to Maria da Penha, after whom the law was named. Twelve years later, in a turbulent political climate, quantitative studies suggest rates of violence against women are higher than ever. Has the law, which directly replicates human rights norms, effected genuine societal changes that protect women? This paper examines 50 online news stories on the Maria da Penha Law and finds that, although the implementation of the law is imperfect, the spread of human rights norms appears to have been significant. Media discourse suggests that the dominant narrative on the law takes protections for women to be necessary, brings attention to issues in its implementation, and attempts to increase rights-consciousness among the public. Lastly, the news stories suggest that Maria da Penha herself, through her unique positionality in relation to the law, plays an important role in making these international standards resonate with Brazilians.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Institute for the Study of Human Rights
Thesis Advisors
Rosenthal, Mila H.
Degree
B.A., Columbia University
Published Here
July 24, 2019
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