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Violence in the City of Women

Violence in the City of Women: Police and Batterers in Bahia, Brazil

Sarah J. Hautzinger
Copyright Date: 2007
Edition: 1
Pages: 364
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  • Book Info
    Violence in the City of Women
    Book Description:

    Brazil's innovative all-female police stations, installed as part of the return to civilian rule in the 1980s, mark the country's first effort to police domestic violence against women. Sarah J. Hautzinger's vividly detailed, accessibly written study explores this phenomenon as a window onto the shifting relationship between violence and gendered power struggles in the city of Salvador da Bahia. Hautzinger brings together distinct voices—unexpectedly macho policewomen, the battered women they are charged with defending, indomitable Bahian women who disdain female victims, and men who grapple with changing pressures related to masculinity and honor. What emerges is a view of Brazil's policing experiment as a pioneering, and potentially radical, response to demands of the women's movement to build feminism into the state in a society fundamentally shaped by gender.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-94115-1
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xx)

    My eyes filled with tears as I hung up the phone, the dim light of the rising Colorado sun diffusing through my window. Almiro, my beloved godson whose sixteenth birthday I’d missed a few weeks before, said at the end of our conversation that he, too, was “tudo emocionado,” all emotional. He gave the typical, prolonged Brazilian good-bye, carefully detailing the people in my life to whom I should pass on hellos and hugs from him and his family.

    An odd coincidence marked this call, because Almiro had been trying to call me that morning via the same public phone...

  5. MAPS
    (pp. xxi-xxii)
  6. Introduction: Violence in Salvador da Bahia, City of Women
    (pp. 1-48)

    Before the advent of its women’s police stations, Brazil suffered an international reputation as a country where men who battered and even murdered their wives could get away with it. This began to change in 1985, when the newly elected state government of São Paulo created the first allfemale police station expressly for the purpose of registering, investigating, and prosecuting diverse forms of male violence against women. At that time, a variety of Brazilian women’s groups, both feminist-identified and not, played watchdog over courtroom processes and judicial decision making. They succeeded in installing multiple shelters, counseling services, and legal advocacy...

  7. ONE Womanly Webs: In-Laws and Violence
    (pp. 49-92)

    The first violence I ever witnessed wrack Zizi’s body was rendered not by her husband, Jorginho, but by his mother. The formidable Dona Alegrina issued this psychological lashing in the form of a mere glance in Zizi’s direction, across a courtyard, from twenty-five yards away.

    That afternoon I’d been talking to Zizi and her friend Diana, the new next-door neighbor who inhabited the room next to mine and Tim’s. Diana seemed to be in her late thirties; she had lovely olive skin, wispy black hair that wasliso(smooth), and very nice, sexy clothes, appropriate for her work as a...

  8. TWO When Cocks Can’t Crow: Masculinity and Violence
    (pp. 93-135)

    Researchers of gender-based partner violence frequently observe that the available literature and mass media sources on the subject are disproportionately informed by women’s voices. By contrast, men’s voices are comparatively absent. Why don’t we hear more about violence in relationships from men’s points of view?¹

    When asked, Bahian men related violence against women to decidedly masculine forms of insecurity, even where they may exert nearly total dominance. Just as Yancí and her mother’s indomitability reminded me of Iansã and Naná Buruku and as Zizi’s wounded wife- and motherhood invoked Yemanjá Assaba, so Zizi’s husband Jorginho (and many of the other...

  9. THREE Paths to a Women’s Police Station
    (pp. 136-181)

    Zizi never physically stepped foot into one of Brazil’s Women’s Police Stations, yet she took advantage of their existence to defend herself by verbally invoking them as a threat. Jorginho was never summoned to account for his violence in a women’sdelegacia, yet knowing that he could be may have stopped his hand in the air, preventing the slap he had intended when he raised it.

    Between 1985 and 2004, over four million women stepped past the line where Zizi stopped.¹ They made their way through the doors of Delegacias da Mulher (DMs) with the intention of “tomando providência” (taking...

  10. FOUR Policing by and for Women
    (pp. 182-220)

    By way of reluctant confession, I admit to being on record stating that the Brazilian women’sdelegaciaswere the “world’s first” specialized, allwomen police stations (Hautzinger 1997a, 1997b, 1997c). So much more readily available has information become that later I could easily discover how wrong I was.

    India, in 1973, saw the first All-Women Police Stations (AWPSs) installed in the southern states of Kerala and Tamil Nandu. Other states eventually followed: Madya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jammu, and Kashmir (Sharma 2002). By 2003, Tamil Nandu state, long distinguished for being progressive regarding women, alone counted 188 AWPSs, one for each district; by...

  11. FIVE Reluctant Champions: Policewomen or Women Police?
    (pp. 221-256)

    Policewomen in the DM in Salvador repeatedly shared with me their belief that “a police officer does not have a sex.” When such statements are made in a context where police specialization is explicitly based upon the gender of individual police officers, the ironic and contradictory implications cannot fail to ensnare an ethnographer’s attention. What meanings, in fact, does the “women” part of “policewomen” assigned to a DM hold? Where the previous chapter’s analysis rested at political and institutional levels, concentrating on police as a corporate group, in this chapter I privilege individual police officer’s voices, and policewomen’s personal and...

  12. Conclusion and Epilogue
    (pp. 257-276)

    Ruth landes’s transnational feminist designation of Salvador da Bahia as “The City of Women” had mixed effects. On the one hand, she misrepresented evidence of men’s centrality in a way that contributed to their marginalization; on the other, she valorized a local, Bahian form of feminized power, which today continues to represent significant symbolic, cultural, and occasionally social and political capital. I have argued, in parallel, that such forms of capital can serve as important resources for Bahian women as they navigate, and articulate their resistance to, violence and domination.

    It is fair, therefore, to ask about the implications of...

  13. NOTES
    (pp. 277-300)
    (pp. 301-306)
    (pp. 307-326)
  16. INDEX
    (pp. 327-342)