The charts that show Brazil’s biggest problem is violence

Brazil’s most recent numbers on violence are staggering: every three weeks, there are more killings in Brazil than in terror attacks everywhere else in the world in 2017.

Per week 1,136 people are murdered in Brazil, according to a report released on Monday 6th. The figures are called a “daily tragedy” by the authors, which compared the stats with the 3,314 deaths by all terror attacks worldwide until May this year.

The soaring levels of violence places Brazil as one of the most violent countries in the world – the nation’s murder rate is five times higher than the global average . In some states, the rate is ten times above that.   Brazil murder map

Who suffer the most?

The victims are the poorest: young black men with few years of education, living in a poverty trap that condemns them to have no better prospects than their parents did.

According to the report, almost half of the 59,080 killings in Brazil in 2015 were against those aged between 15-29.

When split by colour, the figures show how race impact the probability of you living or dying in Brazil: while the murder rate among non-black youths decreased over time (-12.2%), killings among black youths soared (+18.2%).

“The typical kind of victims remains the same: men, young, black and with low levels of education. However, in the last decade, the bias of violence against black youths has increased further,” noted in the report Daniel Ricardo de Castro Cerqueira, a researcher at the think-tank Ipea, which compiled the numbers.

.Murder rate gap

The race bias is also an unfavorable element for black women: while killings of non-black females decreased 7.4% between 2005 and 2015, murders against black women jumped by over a fifth.

“There are racial differences,” said Cerqueira about the findings.

Female killings

Why such violence?

There is a strong correlation between violence and low levels of education and social equality, the report says.

While Brazil’s most peaceful city, Jaraguá do Sul, has a Human Development Index (HDI) of 0,803 – similar to Portugal’s 0.830 – the country’s most violent city, Altamira, has a 0,665 HDI – similar to Botswana’s 0.698.

Jaraguá do Sul is located in one of Brazil’s most developed state, Santa Catarina, while Altamira is placed at one of the nations’ most uneducated one, Pará, where poverty, poor sanitarian conditions and low levels of schooling damage future prospects and breed violence.

Number of killings in Brazil over a decade

Brazil’s “national tragedy“, as the researchers phrase it, harms not only Brazilian’s right to life but also the country’s economic prospects. Cerqueira estimates that 1.5% of Brazil’s USD 1.77 trillion GDP is lost to violence.

“Premature deaths represent in themselves a cost of social welfare as they reduce the life expectancy and therefore the ability of individuals to produce and to consume,” wrote Cerqueira in a recent study about the cost of violence among youths in Brazil.

“It is undoubtedly a great human tragedy, with immeasurable implications,” he adds.



Brazil’s rape culture in numbers

The mass rape of a 16-year-old girl in Rio de Janeiro earlier this week has shocked Brazil.

Videos and pictures of the crime were widely shared on social media before the victim could notify the police, including photos of the teenager bleeding with comments of celebration by the rapists.

No one has been charged yet and the police officer leading the investigation has reportedly asked the teenager if she “is used to group sex”.

The crime has caused an outpouring on social media, with human rights campaigners arguing on whether there is a rape culture in Brazil.

In a poll by Brazilian Forum for Public Security last October, nine in every ten women surveyed said they were afraid of sexual violence. The most frightened were black female, with 70 percent saying they were scared they could be sexually attacked.   

According to official figures, there were over 47,000 cases of rape in Brazil in 2014 alone, one in every 11 minutes. But the total number could be much higher. According to estimates by Ipea, a government-led think-tank, only 10 percent of the attacks are reported to the police.

DataWrapper - Rape

The worse figure is from Roraima, Brazil’s northernmost state, where a rate of 55,5 cases has been reported in every 100,000 people. The figure is twice higher than the national average.

In the map below the reported cases are distributed by state. The darkest the colour, the highest the rate of attacks. Click here for the interactive version and find out rates and total number of cases per state:

Planilha 2 (1)

Children and teenagers

Figures from Violence Map show that the rate of cases involving those under 19 are much higher than of sexual attacks involving adults.

Cases against young people in locations such as Acre is almost three times higher than the national average.

A sample of 12,087 cases only collected in 2011 by the Health Ministry showed that 70 percent of the assaults were against children or teenagers, according to a report by Ipea. Half of the victims were under 13.

Bills in Congress could make health care harder for victims

A new bill by conservative lawmakers could make even harder for rape victims to receive health care after assaults.

A new legislation presented last year by former Lower House speaker Eduardo Cunha aims to change the current law that allow legal abortion to women who have been raped. Brazil already has one of the toughest legislation restricting the procedure.

If the new rules are passed, women would need to prove they have been raped even before they could get the after pill in public hospitals. Abortion penalties are also set to increase.

#CarnavalSemAssédio: How Women in Brazil Are Fighting Harassment

A group of men gathers around a girl, one grabs her arm and try stealing a kiss. She refuses it and the group shouts: “slut, slut, slut“.  

The scene, in the historic town of São Luiz do Paraitinga, 115 miles from São Paulo, should be labelled as harassment, but it is common during Carnival in almost every part  of Brazil.

In an attempt to stop aggressive behaviour towards women, three Paraitinga residents bought and distributed whistles to females, who should blow it in case they felt intimidated by men. 

The initiative “Apito Contra o Assédio” (“Whistle Against Harassment”) is one of a few recent examples of how women are fighting against normalized violence in Brazil.

“I believe information is important”, said Lia Marques, one of the founders of the campaign, in an interview with BBC Brasil. “Harassment is a culture, they [men] believe it is normal, they are used to it. But actions such as this one will help people to understand how this [behaviour] is disrespectful.”

This Wednesday a group of women in Rio de Janeiro took the streets with the paradeMulheres rodadas” (Women who have been around). The title mocks a slang expression used by Brazilian men to humiliate women about their sexual history. 

The parade is supporting the campaign Carnaval sem Assédio (Carnival Without Harassment), launched by website Catraca Livre.

Bringing light to the issue is necessary

A survey by Instituto Data Popular, a think-tank based in São Paulo, shows that almost half of Brazilian men believe that carnival parades are not for “decent women”.

Sixty-one per cent of the men surveyed also said single women taking part in carnival couldn’t complain of being flirted with.

Debates around violence against women gained a boost last October, when thousands of Brazilian women shared their stories of harassment under the hashtag #firstharassment (#meuprimeiroassédio).

The campaign was launched by São Paulo-based journalist Juliana de Faria after a 12-year-old contestant of MasterChef Junior was the target of sexualised online abuse during her appearance in the TV show.

In the chart below from Google Trends it is possible to see the spike in searches for both the terms “harassment” (assédio) and “violence against women” (violência contra a mulher) in mid-October, period when the the #firstharassment hashtag was launched.

Captura de tela 2016-02-10 13.00.21

Such initiatives illustrate how women in Brazil are fighting against a topic deeply buried in Brazilian society.

With mobilization on social media and honest testimonials, women are bringing to light daily cases of abuse suffered by females across the country.

Carnival is just another stage to gather attention to a topic that can no longer stay in the shadow.  

The ungovernable coalition of Dilma Rousseff

Brazil’s political system is an odd one: presidents in Brazil will always need to form coalitions to govern, even when their party has the majority of the National Congress.

In a country with 32 parties – 28 of them with seats in Congress – that is usually a tough job. And the list is likely to grow: at the moment the Superior Electoral Court is analysing requests from 21 new parties.

The political fragmentation can be seen in the number of parties at the National Congress. This is how the Chamber of Deputies is divided in Brazil:


The situation isn’t different at the Federal Senate. This is how the it is divided:

PartiesAtSenate The Brazilian system is known as a coalitional presidentialism, a term coined by Sergio Abranches in 1988. In 2015, Abranches’ definition seems as accurate as ever.

Here are the parties under the incumbent president’s coalition. Click in the picture for an interactive version of the graphic bellow:


A rebel coalition

Dilma Rousseff’s support base total 70 per cent of the seats in the Senate and 63 per cent of all seats in the Chamber of Deputies, Brazilian lower chamber.

Still, her majority in Congress has not been preventing her from being defeated, bill after bill that her government has sent to parliament.

Her most recent defeat was this Wednesday (6), when the Speaker of the Lower Chamber, Eduardo Cunha (PMDB – Brazilian Democratic Movement Party), who is part of the largest party under Rousseff’s coalition, asked the house to approve a new law changing the maximum age for retirement of the judges at the Federal Supreme Court.

The new bill impacts the number of judges Rousseff could nominate to the Federal Supreme Court until the end of her mandate.

Before the change, the president could nominate five new judges, but now will only be able to do so if a judge steps down.

Rousseff is dealing with dissonant voices even inside her own Worker’s Party (PT). The president needs the Congress to approve a new fiscal package to stimulate the economy, but PT, a left-wing party, fears that the package, which brings austerity measures, will bring negative impact to the party.

This week, Brazil’s former president, Fernando Henrique Cardo (PSDB), from the opposition party, declared that Brazil needs a political reform.

“The Brazilian political system is bankrupted. You cannot govern with 30, 40 parties, 40 ministries. It is unfeasible. It is necessary to use this political crisis to improve the electoral system.”

An earlier version of this post stated that the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies had 22 different parties. The number has been corrected to the right one: 28 parties and the missing ones were included. 

The Deadly Reality for Young Black People in Brazil

If you are a young black citizen in Brazil, your chance to be killed is 282 per cent more if you were born white.

Depending on where you live, the chance is 10 times higher.

According to the latest data available about homicides in Brazil, 23,140 black people aged 15-29 were killed in the country in 2012. That means 82 black young people were murdered in every 100,000 black inhabitants.

The rate for young white people is equally alarming: 29 people in every 100,000 white population were killed in the country in 2012.

Both numbers are much higher than the acceptable rate of 10 cases in every 100,000 people by the World Health Organization (WHO). Above this rate, the organization considers violence to be epidemic.


Brazil crime rate is astonishingly high: 56,337 citizens were killed in the country in 2012. That means 156 people were murdered every day, a number that makes Brazil one of the most violent in the world. Young people have accounted for almost half of the victims.

The map of violence

Homicides affect young black and white people in different ways depending on where they live.

In Alagoas State, in the Northeast of Brazil, the homicide rate is of 192 cases in every 100,000 black young people. That is 10 times higher than the rate registered among the young white population. Alagoas is also the third poorest state in Brazil, and ranks 25th amongst the 27 federative units in the list of GDP per person.

In the map bellow it is possible to see what are the states with higher homicide rates. Check the interactive version for visualizing numbers and rates for each state.  


The disparity in how crimes affect more dramatically black communities has led the International Annisty to create the campaign “Jovem Negro Vivo” (Young Black Alive) to fight what the organization calls “indifference” in the Brazilian society.

In the video, youths who are murdered become merely invisible.

The high rate of crimes involving black and poor communities is being analyzed by the Lower Chamber. A Commission has been installed based on the Map of Violence, a study conducted by Julio Jacobo Waiselfisz, from Flacso Brasil.

Waiselfisz said about the commission:

“The majority of homicides [in Brazil] happens among relatives, neighbors and friends for trivial reasons. With the wide circulation of weapons, any conflict becomes lethal. And, most seriously, there is the institutional tolerance to blame the victim. We are unable to institutionally address violence. Rates [of  murder] are only increasing.”

The Commission has been installed in a moment that the Senate tries to change the law to lower the age of criminal responsibility from 18 to 16.

Waiselfisz believes changing the law is not a solution for violence in Brazil:

“We have about 600,000 people jailed in Brazil and more killings. We never had so many prisoners and have more homicides. Changing the law isn’t effective. We have very good laws, such as the Statute of Children and Adolescents, but these laws are not applied.”

Mapped: The #BooDilma on Twitter


For those outside Brazil, it went probably unnoticed the flood of messages on Twitter last night with the hashtag #vaiadilma (Boo Dilma, in English).

Brazil’s president Dilma Rousseff (PT, Workers’ Party) went to national television on Sunday (8) for a 15-minutes pronouncement, where she asked Brazilians for patience with the austerity measures adopted by the government and the weak economy.

The reaction was not all positive, especially in some regions of the country. In protest, residents of cities such as São Paulo, Belo Horizonte, Rio de Janeiro, Vila Velha and Brasília shouted from their balconies and bang pots and pans.

What has been called “balcony protest” made its way to Twitter: last night, #VaiaDilma was in the trending topics in Brazil and amongst the most talked topics on Twitter worldwide.

Some have argued that the reactions were isolated and that they were concentrated in posh neighborhoods of rich capitals.

By analyzing* the tweets posted over the past days with the hashtags #vaiaDilma, #ForaPT (Get out PT) and ForaDilma (Get out Dilma), it is possible to see concentration, specially in the Southeast of the country – but not isolation.

(If you want to see the full map, click here.)


The volume of messages are higher in the states of São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais, with the predominance of São Paulo city. The more you zoom in the map, the more you see that São Paulo have concentrated the posts. If you want to zoom in in the map, click here.

What’s next?

The atmosphere of animosity may be concentrated, but it is growing. Next Sunday (15) a march is expected from those who support an impeachment of Dilma Rousseff, despite the unlikeliness of the procedure.

An event on Facebook, called “Vemprarua” (Come to the Streets), run by an unknown institution, has 272,545 members at the moment. The community posts videos and convocations asking Brazilians to march on the 15th.

It is important to put numbers in perspective: Brazil is a massive country, with more than 200 million people. The universe of 272,545 members does not represent a significant amount of the population.

However, the narrow margin of victory Dilma had just five months ago in the presidential elections might play a role.

Some influential voices, as journalist Bruno Torturra, called attention to the insensitiveness of Dilma: appearing on television one week before the march without addressing hot topics, as corruption scandals that members of the government coalition are involved into, was not the best political decision.

Dilma’s opponent in the last election, Eduardo Jorge (Partido Verde, Green Party) said Dilma’s speech in national TV was actually the convocation for the 15th March:

If the president’s speech was a “shoot in the foot”, we are yet to see.

*Sample: 25,000 tweets collected, 800 posts visualized.  

The Brazilian government in the epicentre of a dramatic crisis

Dilma Rousseff

The political landscape in Brazil has never been peaceful, but some ingredients are bringing a dramatic tone to the scene this time. The main one is a corruption scandal involving the largest Brazilian company, Petrobras, a state-controlled oil-giant caught in a billionaire bribe-scheme last year. Other ingredients are an economic downturn, with forecast pointing to a GDP growth of only 0.55 per cent this year, and a crisis between government and congress.

The drama peaked this week as Rodrigo Janot, Brazil’s chief prosecutor, sent a list of 54 people, including high profile politicians and business men, to the Supreme Court, asking permission for investigating the suspects. The “Janot List”, as the document has been called in the Brazilian press, includes names as Eduardo Cunha, the speaker of the Congress’s lower house, and Renan Calheiros, his counterpart in the senate.

The suspects’ names are still under official secret. Janot has asked the Supreme Court Justice, Teori Zavascki, to make the list public. While the Court makes a decision, Brazilians watch the news as a soap opera, waiting for the next name that is going to be leaked. What is expected is that the president’s Dilma Rousseff own party (PT – Labour Party) and her coalition to be hit hard.

Until now, Rousseff had not been named in the investigations, but it was published yesterday that her name has been mentioned by one of the executives who did a plea bargain after his arrest last year. The opposition candidate Aecio Neves, who was running for the presidential elections last October against Rousseff, has also been mentioned in the testimonies. Janot, the chief prosecutor, asked the Supreme Court not to investigate Rousseff and Neves, saying there were not enough evidences to do so.

Today, Rousseff’s first name, Dilma, was the most mentioned word in the Brazilian press*. 


Her name has appeared alongside with the name of the operation, Lava Jato (“Car Wash”, in English), and side by side with the main actors of the investigation, including the STF (which stands for Supreme Court of Justice) and Janot, the chief prosecutor. Surprisingly, the name of Neves has not received the same level of attention.

Brazilian disillusionment and the shadow of an impeachment

The Lava Jato operation is far from being the only problem to Rousseff. Brazilian economy is growing very little, inflation is at 7.4 per cent, and Brazilians see the impact on the job market and on the prices. The energy bill has risen 23,4 per cent from last year. Fuel price in São Paulo has risen 9,9% between November 2014 and February 2015, according to Bloomberg.

Disillusioned, a portion of Brazilians turned radical and the word impeachment has been resonating louder than it should.

Here is how the search of the words “impeachment dilma” evolved on Google searches in the past 12 months. The first peak came in mid-October, just after the presidential elections. Another peak was seen in February, during the epicentre of the Lava Jato operation. The searches decreased in the end of the month, but seemed to adopt an ascendent behaviour in March. GoogleTrends

On Twitter, the hashtag #impeachment shows posts full of anger and frustration at the government. Expressions encouraging Brazilians to protest, such as “Come to the streets” (Vem pra rua), share space with words such as “Out PT” (Fora PT), “impeachment dilma” and “Out Dilma” (Fora Dilma). Other expressions asked for Dilma to renounce (RenunciaDilma), while others invited Brazilians to march to Brasília, the country’s capital (Rumoabrasilia).


For the sake of our democratic institutions, all what Brazilians can hope is for an independent investigation of the corruption scandal that exposed companies, politicians and businessmen.

For the sake of the young history of democracy in Brazil, all we can hope is no disillusionment will prevent Rousseff to conclude her term of office.

*Brazilian press: analysis using the headlines of newspapers O Globo, Folha de S. Paulo and Zero Hora. 

Brazilians in London vote in presidential election hoping for change

Brazilians based in London were voting this Sunday, 5th October in one of the most unpredictable presidential elections since the re-democratization of Brazil, 25 years ago.

The 15,967 voters registered in London gathered at the Brazilian Embassy and Consulate from morning to afternoon to choose their candidates in a moment that the country sees high inflation, slow economic growth and a sense of discontent grows among the Brazilian society.

Voters queue at the Brazilian Embassy

Voters queue at the Brazilian Embassy (Credit: Keila Guimaraes)

Quesia Lima, who lives in London since 1994, is voting for the first time since moving here because she says she wants change.

“Brazil’s situation at the moment demands us to vote. We have to take action,” she says, adding that she is supporting the environmental activist Marina Silva (PSB). “Even though I have no plans to go back to Brazil, part of my family is there. Voting is an attempt to take the country out of the hands of corrupt politicians,” Lima states.

Over the past 12 years, Brazil has been under the rule of the Worker’s Party (PT), first with Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, elected in 2002, and later with Dilma Roussef, the incumbent president since 2010 who is seeking a second term.

The party’s main legacy is social changes. In 2014, for the first time, the UN removed Brazil from the World Hunger Map. According to a report by FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), the number of people that starve in Brazil has fallen 50 per cent in 10 years. A combination of public policies for income transfer to the poorest families, direct purchases for food procurement and technical training of small producers are considered key for the results Brazil achieved.

The country has also raised millions of people out of poverty between 2001 and 2012, reducing in 75% the number of people that lives with less than US$ 1 per day, according to the report.

Despite these improvements though, Brazilians are fed up with scandals involving the government and with poor public services. Massive protests that took millions of people to the streets last year encapsulates this discontent.

“We need a president that is going to tackle corruption. Just then we will have enough money to invest in education and in public health,” says Fabiano Farias, who lives in London since 2008 and has chosen the centre-right candidate Aécio Neves (PSDB).

“Education and health are the basis for a succesful country. There is nothing worse than a citizen unaware of their rights and of how to claim them”, reflects Celia Navarro, who lives in Wales since 2001 and has travelled to London to vote.


Polls suggest Roussef is in the front, with 44 per cent of the voting intention, followed by Neves, who has 26 per cent, and by Silva, who has now 24 per cent. The race is likely to have a second run on the 26th October and Neves and Silva compete for who is going to confront Roussef.

Whoever wins, the electorate message is clear: urgent reforms are needed.