On July 28, 2021, Law No. 14,188 (Lei No. 14.188, de 28 de Julho de 2021), which defines the cooperative program Red Signal Against Domestic Violence as a means of combating domestic and family violence against women throughout the national territory of Brazil, entered into force.
The new law adds the cooperative program to previous measures to combat domestic and family violence against women provided for in the Maria da Penha Law, Law No. 11,340, of August 7, 2006 (Lei Maria da Penha, Lei No. 11.340, de 7 de Agosto de 2006), and in the Penal Code, Decree-Law No. 2,848, of December 7, 1940 (Código Penal, Decreto-Lei No. 2.848, de 7 de Dezembro de 1940).
Provisions of the New Law
Law No. 14,188 amended the Penal Code to include a punishment for simple bodily harm committed against women merely because of their gender (por razões da condição do sexo feminino) and to create a penal classification for psychological violence against women. (Law No. 14,188, art. 1.)
Article 2 of Law No. 14,188 authorizes, in accordance with Law No. 11,340, of August 7, 2006, the integration of the executive and judiciary branches, Public Prosecutor’s Office, Public Defender’s Office, public security agencies, and private entities in order to promote and implement the Red Signal Program Against Domestic Violence as a means of helping women victims of domestic and family violence. (Law No. 14,188, art. 2.) These bodies must establish an immediate communications channel with private entities throughout the country participating in the program in order to provide assistance and security to the victim from the moment she communicates her need for help. Under the program, the victim can signal that she needs help by making an X, preferably in red, on the palm of her hand. (Art. 2 (sole para.).)
The victim can identify herself personally by means of the signal in public offices and private entities throughout the country and, for this purpose, an information campaign and permanent training of professionals belonging to the program must be carried out (as provided for in Law No. 11,340, of August 7, 2006) to refer the victim to specialized care in her locality. (Art. 3.)
According to instructions posted on the website of the the National Justice Council (Conselho Nacional de Justiça, CNJ), after the victim makes the red X signal on her palm (with lipstick or any other accessible material), which allows the signal to escape the notice of the aggressor, the victim should then show it to an attendant in any of the 15,000 pharmacies, city halls, judicial bodies, and Bank of Brazil branches across the country participating in the campaign. The attendant, in a reserved manner, using the means at his or her disposal, registers the alleged victim’s name, telephone number, and address; calls 190 to alert the Military Police; and then, if possible, takes the victim to a space reserved for the purpose to await the arrival of the police. If the victim says she does not want the police at that time, the attendant transmits her information by phoning 190 after she leaves. The instructions note that, for the safety of everyone and the success of the operation, secrecy and discretion are very important, and that the person attending will not be called to the police station to act as a witness.
Section 13 was added to article 129 of the Penal Code to punish anyone who offends the bodily integrity or health of a woman because of her gender with one to four years in prison, in accordance with article 121(§ 2-A) of the Penal Code, which determines that the woman’s gender must be considered a factor when the crime involves domestic and family violence or reflects contempt for or discrimination against women. (Law No. 14,188, art. 4.)
The new law adds article 147-B to the Penal Code to punish psychological violence against women. Under the new provision, causing emotional damage to women that harms and disturbs their full development or that aims to degrade or control their actions, behaviors, beliefs, and decisions through threats, embarrassment, humiliation, manipulation, isolation, blackmail, ridicule, limitations on their right to come and go, or any other means that harm their psychological health and self-determination is punishable by six months to two years in prison, or by a fine if the conduct does not constitute a more serious crime. (Art. 4.)
The new law also adds article 12-C to Law No. 11,340, of August 7, 2006, which created mechanisms to curb domestic and family violence against women, in accordance with article 226 (§ 8) of the Federal Constitution; the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women; and the Inter-American Convention to Prevent, Punish, and Eradicate Violence against Women. According to the newly included article 12-C, once the existence of a current or imminent risk to the life or the physical or psychological integrity of the woman or her dependents in a situation involving domestic and family violence is verified, the aggressor will be immediately removed from the home, domicile, or place of coexistence with the victim. (Art. 5.)