Short circuit, no line, or in line? Networks confronting violence against women in São Paulo

Cecília MacDowell Santos About the author

This article examines State agents' approaches to domestic violence and the factors shaping the application of the Maria da Penha Law with respect to its provisions on the constitution and expansion of networked criminal and non-criminal services to cronfront violence against women, the so-called Rede de Enfrentamento à Violência contra Mulheres. Based on field research in the city of São Paulo between 2012 and 2014, the article shows that, in addition to the women's police stations established in the 1980s and 1990s, a number of non-criminal services have been created in the last decade in the periphery of the city, contributing to the expansion of the Rede. However, there are multiple redes (networks), not just one, and they run in line, in conflict, or in parallel with each other. State agents embrace diverse approaches to domestic violence against women, ranging from pro-family to gender-based, feminist, or intersectional (gender, race, and social class) perspectives. This diversity illustrates an heterogenous legal-political culture on women's rigths within the Brazilian State, which I dub a "bipolar" State, regulated, on one hand, by the gender/woman regime of the policies for women, and, on the other hand, by the family regime of the social assistance and public security sectors. In addition to the political context, three factors contribute to the heterogeneity of the State: the institutional base of the service; the type of professional training of State agents; the history of the service and its relationship with the local community and/or social movements.

Maria da Penha Law; Networks to Confront Violence against Women; State; Domestic Violence; Feminisms


Centro de Filosofia e Ciências Humanas e Centro de Comunicação e Expressão da Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina Campus Universitário - Trindade, 88040-970 Florianópolis SC - Brasil, Tel. (55 48) 3331-8211, Fax: (55 48) 3331-9751 - Florianópolis - SC - Brazil
E-mail: ref@cfh.ufsc.br