Gender and Language, Vol 13, No 2 (2019)

Sexual abuse in proceedings of gender-based violence in the Brazilian judicial system

Lúcia Gonçalves de Freitas, Liliana Cabral Bastos
Issued Date: 31 Jul 2019


Based on a feminist approach to law, we analyse dimensions of the performance of the Brazilian judiciary in three judgements of domestic and family violence against women that encompass sexual abuse. We show how gender-based violence is constructed in agreed decisions, on lawsuits under the Maria da Penha law, which is considered a landmark in Brazilian legislation on gender. Using a narrative approach and the concept of entextualisation, the analysis focuses firstly on the judicial acts as legal trajectories and the presentation of the episode of sexual violence that led to the judicial process. A second focus is on constructions of these same episodes in different instances of the judicial acts. We found that agents of the penal system, in applying the Maria da Penha law, reaffirm dominant structures of subjectivity, allowing a pre-established set of values against which the law sought precisely to break. Different judges provide divergent understandings in a single trial and may reveal more or less involvement with the political perspectives of the law. The findings have implications for discussions of women’s rights through criminal law.

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DOI: 10.1558/genl.35608


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