Monday, October 1, 2018

Feminicide across Europe: Portugal

1 Definition
Intimate Partner Violence is contemplated as part of the autonomous crime of Domestic Violence – Article 152 of Portuguese Penal Code: “Whoever, in a repetitive manner or not, imposes physical or mental abuses, including bodily punishments, deprivations of liberty and sexual offences to the spouse or ex-spouse; to a person of another or of the same sex with whom the agent maintains or has maintained a relationship equal to a relationship of spouses, even if without cohabitation; to progenitor of common descendant in first degree; or to a person particularly undefended, due to age, deficiency, disease, pregnancy or economic dependency, who cohabitates with him, is punished with sentence of imprisonment from one to five years. If the agent commits the act against a minor, in the presence of a minor, in the common domicile or in the victim’s domicile is punished with sentence of imprisonment from two to five years. If, from the acts referred to above, results death, the agent is punished with sentence of imprisonment from three to ten years and in the cases where it results grievous bodily injury, the agent is punished with sentence of imprisonment from two to eight years”.
Portugal remains embedded in conservative and patriarchal cultural values about family and intimacy, which favours the social acceptance of gender inequality particularly in the family context.
The designation of femicide is not adopted by the Portuguese current administrative system and is relatively unused in general. The terms most used are homicide or marital homicide.

2 Sources
Despite the extension of the phenomena and the legal advances made in the last decades Portugal does not have a specific national legal and regulatory framework concerning data collection on Violence against Women (VAW).
Both the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Internal Administration collect data on marital homicide. Beyond criminal statistics, provided by official administrative sources, data collection on marital violence is made mainly by academics and civil society organisations, particularly women’s associations, adopting each entity different approaches and methods.
Since 2008, the Ministry of Internal Administration produces annually a report on domestic violence - Domestic Violence: Annual Report of Monitoring -, which integrates information concerning crime registrations based on complaints reported to police authorities [The Republican National Guard (GNR) and the Police of Public Security (PSP)].
The Portuguese Observatory of Murdered Women - a mechanism created in 2004 by The Women's Collective Alternative and Answer (UMAR) - produce periodically reports on femicide and recently The Portuguese Association for Victim Support (APAV) has created a Homicide Crimes Observatory, where marital homicide crimes are also analysed.
In 2016 it was created, by the Portuguese Government, the Team of Retrospective Analysis on Domestic Violence Homicides (Ordinance n. º 280/2016, October 26), whose mission is to carry out the retrospective analysis of homicide situations that occurred in the context of domestic violence to develop prevention measures.
(by Sofia Neves)
In order to fight feminicide/femicide, various Latin American and European countries have adopted increasingly specific laws and legal instruments that penalize feminicide. The ratification of the Belém do Pará Convention1 in Latin America and the entry into force of the Istanbul Convention2  in Europe, demonstrate an increasingly stronger international commitment against this kind of violence. The establishment of the Bi-regional Dialogue on Gender by the European Union (EU) and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), as well as the adoption of the Urgent Resolution on Feminicide in the European Union and Latin America3 by the Euro-Latin American Parliamentary Assembly (EuroLat) also express this commitment.    

However, legal norms, agreements, and international dialogues alone are not sufficient for the eradication of violence against women, nor its most extreme manifestation, feminicide.

Traditionally, States were only responsible for their own actions or those of their agents, but international public law has evolved and currently, the principle of due diligence makes the State responsible for the prevention, investigation, and prosecution of violence, regardless of who commits the crime. The duty of due diligence obliges States to enter the private sphere, where historically, they have not intervened, but where the majority of cases of violence against women occur. 

Therefore, it is the duty of the State to take all necessary measures to prevent human rights violations, such as feminicide, before they occur. This means, on the one hand, adopting pertinent laws and policies to prevent, investigate, prosecute, and punish those guilty of abuse, and on the other hand, successfully implement them. 

Patricia Jiménez, Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung – European Union, Brussels

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