In Brazil, Support Groups Also Help Perpetrators Of Domestic Violence

In a number of Brazilian states, judges are ordering those guilty of domestic violence to join group discussions. Participants say they're resistant at first, but eventually find the experience to be a real eye-opener.

Educating against violence
Educating against violence
Natalia Cancian

PARANOÁ â€" In a public building in Paranoá, in central Brazil's Federal District, a group of 15 people meet once a week to talk about domestic violence. In this case, though, the participants aren't victims seeking support. They're the perpetrators themselves, abusers who've either been referred here by the justice system, or, in rare instances, come of their own free will.

"We have to give men their share of responsibility," says Lucia Bessa, the Federal District's undersecretary for women's affairs. "Normally we women, whether it's about reporting abuse or leaving an abusive relationship, bear all the responsibility. But what about the male partner? What about the abuser?"

The discussion groups, organized by a body called the Center for Assistance to Family and Perpetrators of Domestic Violence (NAFAVD), are an attempt to answer that same question. Similar efforts are being made in other Brazilian states. Overall, there are 25 such services being offered in nine different states, according to a Adriano Beiras, a psychology professor at the Federal University of Santa Catarina (UFSC).

Discussion and educational groups for perpetrators of abuse are still few and far between, in other words, but they appear to be gaining ground, in large part because of domestic violence legislation enacted in 2006. The so-called Maria da Penha Law, named after a biopharmacist who was herself a victim of domestic abuse, specifically recommended such groups as a way to "educate" against violence.

"A man who has abused a woman can do it again to another if all we're doing is focusing on the victim," says Beiras. "It's like trying to fix a problem without looking at the root cause."

Anger and resistance

The discussion groups give offenders an opportunity to reflect on their behavior. The sessions are overseen by psychologists and social workers, and recommended by judges generally for minor cases, when threats are made, for example. Often the men are slapped with restraining orders as well.

"When they get here, they are mad," Rebeca Rohgls, founder of the Albam Institute in Belo Horizonte, says of the discussion group participants. "In many cases they're here because of threats they made, so most of them believe they didn't do anything wrong. "She knew I wasn’t going to kill her," they say."

Rohgls is a pioneer with these kinds of programs. "In the group sessions, we work on raising awareness among the men, which is a way to protect women," she adds. Rohgls says participants often attend meetings for between four and six months, and that topics commonly discussed include gender, women’s rights, paternity and the Maria da Penha Law.

One of the biggest obstacles, according to Isabel Cristina Ribeiro, a coordinator with the NAFAVD program in Paranoá, is the "macho culture" that men use to justify violence. "Usually, they arrive and say, "I hit her, but she provoked me,"" Ribiero notes.

Coordinators like Ribeiro also have the challenge of finding qualified professionals willing to work with abusers. "Many psychologists and social workers don't feel prepared to handle this stuff," says Ricardo Bortoli, a social worker in the southeastern city of Blumenau. "They see these men only as crooks,"

But Bortoli, who founded a group, 13 years ago, for perpetrators of domestic violence, sees the situation differently: He believes that with help, abusers can evolve and thus live as "normal" people.

"It wasn't loaded"

For more insight, Folha spoke with some of the program participants themselves. One of the men, 38-year-old Maciel (not his real name), told us about the argument he had with his wife, six years ago, that landed him in jail and eventually into one of the group sessions.

He was drunk at the time, he says, and decided to interrogate his wife, whom he suspected of cheating on him. "It did not go smoothly at all," Maciel recalls. "I cursed and said a lot of dirty words. I had a gun at home, but it wasn't laoded. It was an old shotgun. I threatened her with it."

The woman ran to the back room. Hours later, while Maciel was sleeping, the police showed up at his house. "The police told me, "If we find the gun, you're going to jail." And I did go," he says.

Maciel was initially held for nine days, then given a longer sentence and a restraining order by the courts. This year he was ordered to attend NAFAVD meetings in Paranoá. He says that after six months, his ideas about violence have changed. "Most people think domestic violence is only when someone hits his wife," he says. "But there are various forms of violence. People think that words don’t hurt."

Maciel admits he was resistant at first. "When you arrive, you think you are going to be judged, but it's a support group. I tried to take it seriously and learn some lessons," he says. “I left with another point of view. Not that I was violent before. But if I had that knowledge about violence, I would not have made that mistake."

Greater peace of mind

Joao (not his real name) describes a similar experience â€" of initial resistance followed by acceptance. When he was first ordered to attend group sessions in Blumenau, Joao was so resentful he even thought about appealing the courts to exempt him.

“At first I regretted not hitting my ex-wife, since here I was, having to go though the legal process regardless. But in the end I accepted the meetings and started to enjoy them," he says.

Joao's meetings take place every two weeks. The men sit in a circle. Their discussions are mediated by coordinators (usually both men and women are present). "I didn't think of myself as a chauvinist, but I realized that in some aspects, I was," says Joao.

A third participant, Gustavo Mendes, 37, found himself in one of the programs after an argument with his ex-girlfriend. "I don’t remember what I said, but the argument was very serious," he says. "I told her to get out of the car and I insulted her."

A judge ordered him to attend meetings. "It was a big shock," he says. But now, after 10 sessions, Mendes says that he gets it now â€" that he shouldn't have allowed himself to get so angry. "I began to see things with a greater peace of mind," he says.

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Spencer Tunick Nude Installation in Israel

Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

👋 Salam!*

Welcome to Monday, where the UK pays homage to slain MP David Amess, Myanmar frees thousands of prisoners, and Facebook gets ready to build its "metaverse." Please fasten your seatbelts: Worldcrunch also takes stock of the long-lasting effects — good and bad — the pandemic has had on the air travel industry.

[*Azeri - Azerbaijan]


Myanmar to free political prisoners: Myanmar's junta chief Min Aung Hlaing has announced the release of 5,636 prisoners who had been jailed for protesting the coup that ousted the civilian government in February 2021.

• Powerful Haiti gang behind the kidnapping of U.S. missionaries: The notorious 400 Mawozo gang is believed to be behind the kidnapping in Haiti of a group of Christian missionaries, including 16 U.S. citizens and one Canadian. The brazen kidnapping on Saturday comes as crime is spiking since the killing of President Jovenel Moise in July.

• UK to pay tribute to David Amess: British lawmakers will pay homage in parliament to colleague David Amess, who was stabbed to death Friday in what was described by the police as a "terrorist incident." Officers arrested a 25-year-old suspect whose father, Harbi Ali Kullane, worked as a media adviser to a former prime minister of Somalia.

• COVID update: Russia has registered more than 34,000 cases of new infections in the past 24 hours, a new record since the start of the pandemic. Meanwhile, police in the northeast Italian city of Trieste used water cannons to clear striking dockworkers protesting Italy's new requirements that all employees be vaccinated.

• At least 26 killed in floods in India: Torrential rain has triggered floods and landslides in India's southern coastal state of Kerala, killing at least 26 people.

• Facebook to hire 10,000 in EU to develop "metaverse": The U.S. social media giant plans to hire 10,000 workers in the European Union over the next five years to build a "metaverse," a virtual reality version of the internet that the company touts as the future.

Punishing parents for children's bad behavior: After limiting gaming hours for minors, China is now considering legislation to reprimand parents if their children exhibit "very bad behavior" or commit crimes.


Colombian daily El Espectador dedicates its front page to Alex Saab, "owner of the secrets" of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. The Colombian businessman, wanted by U.S. authorities for allegedly laundering money on behalf of Venezuela's government, has been extradited from Cape Verde to the U.S. where he is scheduled to appear in court today.



China's economy registered its slowest pace in a year as the country faces a looming energy crisis with power shortages and increasing pressure on its property sector. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the period between July-September rose 4.9%, the weakest numbers since the third quarter of 2020 and significantly lower than forecasts. The world's second-largest economy faces a debt crisis linked to the China Evergrande Group debt crisis, while energy shortfalls have dropped factory output to its weakest since early 2020, when heavy COVID-19 curbs were in place.


7 ways the pandemic may change the airline industry for good

Will flying be greener? More comfortable? Less frequent? As the world eyes a post-COVID reality, we look at ways the airline industry has been changing through a pandemic that has devastated air travel.

⛽ Cleaner aviation fuel: With air travel responsible for roughly 12% of all CO2 emissions from transport, and stricter international regulation on the horizon, the industry is increasingly seeking sustainable alternatives to petroleum-based fuel. In Germany, state broadcaster Deutsche Welle reports that the world's first factory producing CO2-neutral kerosene recently started operations in the town of Wertle, in Lower Saxony. The plant, for which Lufthansa is set to become the pilot customer, will produce CO2-neutral kerosene through a circular production cycle incorporating sustainable and green energy sources and raw materials

.🛃 Smoother check-in: The pandemic has also accelerated the shift towards contactless traveling, with more airports harnessing the power of biometrics — such as facial recognition or fever screening — to reduce touchpoints and human contact. Similar technology can also be used to more efficiently scan physical objects, such as explosive detection. Ultimately, passengers will be able to "check-in" and go through a security screening anywhere at the airports, removing queues and bottlenecks.

✈️ The billion-dollar question: Will we fly less? At the end of the day, even with all these (mostly positive) changes that we've seen take shape over the past 18 months, the industry faces major uncertainty about whether air travel will ever return to the pre-COVID levels. Not only are people wary about being in crowded and closed airplanes, but the worth of long-distance business travel, in particular, is being questioned as many have seen that meetings can function remotely, via Zoom and other online apps.

➡️


"The crimes committed that night are unforgivable for the Republic."

— Emmanuel Macron became the first French president to commemorate the killing of as many as 200 Algerian independence protesters by Parisian police in 1961. For 40 years, French officials ignored the massacre, which took place a year before Algeria gained its independence from France after an eight-year war. In 2012, French President François Hollande acknowledged the killings for the first time on a visit to Algeria, and Macron took it further by attending Sunday's commemoration at the site where the events happened in the French capital. Still, many had hoped the French President would go further and take responsibility for a "state massacre," for a crime many historians consider the most violent repression of a peaceful demonstration in post-War Europe.


​Low trust, high risk: The global rise of violence targeting politicians

The deadly stabbing of British Parliament Member David Amess confirms an ongoing study on trust and governance in democracies around the world: It's bad. In The Conversation, James Weinberg — the study's author and a lecturer in Political Behavior at the University of Sheffield — writes:

⏪ The assassination of Amess, who was stabbed to death in his constituency on Friday, is a tragic moment for democracy. What makes it even more devastating is that such a catastrophic failure is not without precedent or predictability. Labour MP Jo Cox was shot at her constituency surgery in 2016. Before her, another Labour MP, Stephen Timms, survived a stabbing in 2010. And Andrew Pennington, a Gloucestershire county councilor, died in a frenzied attack in 2001 while trying to protect local Liberal Democrat MP Nigel Jones.

☝️ Beyond these critical junctures in the public debate about politicians' safety, elected representatives must live with an increasingly insidious level of popular cynicism that threatens violence on an almost daily basis.

🇬🇧🇳🇿🇿🇦 Not only are these experiences of abuse or threats of physical violence felt across both sides of the political aisle in the UK — they also appear to be growing more common in other democratic contexts where the climate of politics has been presumed to be both calmer and more volatile, from New Zealand to South Africa.

Read the full piece from The Conversation, now on

✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

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