Skip to main content

24 May 2021

Tackling gender-based violence

New research from Professor Cathy McIlwaine has found that 82% of Brazilian women in London have experienced gender-based violence in their lifetime.

Rio De Janeiro balcony

The research showed that 3 out of 4 women reported having faced violence in Brazil, with just under half of women interviewed experiencing it again in London.

Professor McIlwaine worked alongside communities across Rio de Janeiro and London, as well as charity partners, to understand and map the extent, causes and effects of violence against women.

Her research, which was undertaken in partnership with the Palace Projects, Latin American Women's Rights Services, CASA Festival in London and with Redes da Mare and the Escola de Serviço Social, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), saw nearly 1,000 Brazilian women surveyed across London (175 women) and Complexo da Maré (801 women), a low-income community in the north of Rio de Janeiro.

Findings indicated that 75% of the violence faced by women in London had occurred within the public sphere, in locations such as the workplace, on the street or on public transport. However, in Rio de Janeiro, intimate partners committed a third of gender-based violence, with only 15% perpetrated by strangers and the remainder by work colleagues and bosses or friends and family.

Understanding and awareness of gender-based violence was also more limited in Rio de Janeiro than in London: while the vast majority of those surveyed (76%) stated that violence against women and girls occurs in Maré, only 28% openly stated that they had suffered it. However, when asked about reporting such violence, 38% stated they had experienced it.

Notably, 56% of women in London had never reported episodes of violence, often due either to a lack of information about services or out of a fear of being deported due to insecure immigration status.

We were very keen to raise awareness of the extent of gender-based violence against Brazilian women in particular, but migrant women more broadly. This is an area that we don’t know very much about, and we felt it was incredibly important to have that information in order to try and raise public awareness, but also awareness in government circles.

Professor Cathy McIlwaine

In this story

Cathy McIlwaine

Vice Dean (Research), Faculty of Social Sciences and Public Policy