Nisha Rathode (Editor)

Maria da Penha

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Name  Maria Penha
Role  Women's rights activist

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Born  1945Fortaleza, Ceara

Occupation  Biopharmacist activist

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Maria da Penha Maia Fernandes (Fortaleza, Ceará, 1945) is a Brazilian biopharmacist and women rights activist. A victim of domestic violence by her husband, she fought for her attacker to be condemned.


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On August 7, 2006, the president of Brazil Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva put into practice the Federal Brazilian Law 11340, now known as the Law Maria da Penha, in which the severity of punishment for domestic violence against women had been increased, whenever it occurred in a domestic or family environment.

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In 1983, her husband, Colombian schoolteacher Marco Antonio Heredia Viveros, attempted to kill her twice. The first time he shot her in her sleep, but she survived, the second time he tried to electrocute her while she showered. Penha was left paraplegic due to these attacks. In the following year Maria da Penha began a legal process against Viveros. Seven years later, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison. The defense appealed the sentence and the conviction was overturned. A new trial was held in 1996 and a sentence of 10 years was applied. In 2001, Viveros was sentenced to eight years in prison. Through legal resources, he was jailed for two years. Viveiros was released in 2002.

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In 2001, the episode came to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States (OAS) and for the first time in history it was considered a crime of domestic violence. The Commission published a report blaming the Brazilian government for negligence and omission regarding domestic violence. On August 7, 2001 the Brazilian government sanctioned the law against domestic violence toward women, entering into force on September 22 of that year.

Today, Penha is coordinator of studies of the Associação de Parentes e Amigos de Vítimas de Violência (APAVV), in the Brazilian state of Ceará. She attended the ceremony of the sanction of Brazilian law that bears her name, together with other ministers and representatives of the Brazilian feminist movement.


Maria da Penha Wikipedia