1 of 1 campaign to fight online violence against women is launched in Maranhão — Photo: Disclosure/Agência Câmara de Notícias Campaign to fight online violence against women is launched in Maranhão — Photo: Disclosure/Agência Câmara de Notícias
Criminal lawyers in São Paulo who defend victims of sexual and genderbased violence denounce that lawyers attached photos of women in bikinis to defendants in criminal proceedings in order to discredit the victims.
“The argumentative purpose of these photos was to say that the victim didn’t seem sad enough, depressed and with posttraumatic stress for posting photos in a bikini,” said Maira Pinheiro, a criminal justice and women’s rights attorney.
The defense attorney says she has acted in three violence against women cases in the last week two of which were rape and one of assault and false imprisonment in which the attackers’ defense used the same line of defence.
The lawyer deals with very similar processes Ana Paula Bragaa lawyer specializing in women’s rights, said that attempts are being made to construct the idea that certain behaviors should be treated as abuses of the prerogative of the defense, but that the Brazilian Bar Association (OAB) refuses to accept this thesis.
“You have to strengthen yourself institutionally so that the OAB also guides lawyers, to do this gender training, so that this type of attitude is no longer adopted and taken for granted and permissive, because the right of defense is broad but not absolute “, stressed .
In a statement, the OAB SP (Brazilian Bar Association of São Paulo Section) said that “cases violating ethical behavior must be referred to the body’s TED (Tribunal of Ethics and Discipline), where they will be investigated in secret, and eventually the applicable sanctions imposed”.
In the event of a provocation, the judge must determine in each individual case whether the defense acted in bad faith in its thesis or not. The member of parliament can also ask to speak so that the dignity of women is not violated.
Symbolic violence and slut shaming
For Maira, the behavior of the lawyers for the alleged aggressors constitutes symbolic violence, which would be a form of judicial harassment through abusive tactics with “traces of genderbased violence”.
For the g1she declared that this was the “dirtiest” defense she had seen in her career and that the line of argument chosen was based on the practice of slutshaming:
“It’s a strategy to discredit the victim based on a moral double standard logic where from the moment the woman is placed in the dichotomy between saint and promiscuity, everything she has to say becomes less credible . Nothing to do with the facts discussed.”
“This proves, among many citations, that the victim’s claim about the emotional upheaval resulting from the violence is false, as she would be fine with posting a bikini photo even in quotation marks,” he explained.
In the field of criminal law, Maira says, there is a current that believes that “the pinnacle of democracy is that anything is allowed in the practice of defence,” but the lawyer doesn’t see it that way.
“I go there [em Portugal] Earlier in the week and here there was a process. That means Pedro has filed a lawsuit against me and scheduled a hearing next week. He’s trying to shut me up,” she said in a video posted to social media.
Unlawful or unethical behavior?
While she understands the practice is unethical, Maira Pinheiro appreciates that the behavior is still not considered essentially illegal and that there is room for change:
Silvia TschakianProsecutor for Justice Against Violence Against Women at the State Ministry of São Paulo, arguing that the defense tactics of the alleged attackers’ lawyers are unacceptable:
“It’s absurd, it’s unacceptable. It’s a form of institutional violence. In criminal proceedings, the accused has the right to a defense, but that defense is not unlimited. The limit is the dignity of these women and must be respected.”
Chakian explains that when confronted with an allegation of genderbased or sexual violence, the defense’s strategy is to try to discredit the victim’s complaint and words, focusing on three main points:
“You’re going to see these absurd strategies that try to portray the victim’s behavior as if there’s an expected pattern for a woman experiencing violence of this kind so that she’s seen as a ‘true victim,'” she said.
“As if, for example, all women who suffer such trauma should react in the same way. This is absurd because trauma is a unique experience. We cannot admit that if these women seek justice, which is happening, they will become victims of new violence.”
For Silvia, the practice is also unethical and can also shape institutional violence revictimization, psychological violence, emotional harm.
“The prosecution, aware of these facts, must ensure that such evidence is not included in the proceedings and that the dignity of these women is not violated.”
According to Silvia, it is up to the prosecution in such cases to first request the immediate removal from the file of the victim’s pictures or other evidence that has no relevance or relevance to the prosecution. “Because it doesn’t matter on a postreporting bikini photo, a picture of the victim in a recreational situation, that absolutely does not warrant discriminatory conclusions or revictimization of the victim,” he affirmed.
“An eventual violation can even lead to institutional violence and a crime against the honor of defending the defendant of this kind, which violates the dignity of women who are victims of violence,” says the prosecutor.
“The Protocol for Gender Studies [do Conselho Nacional de Justiça (CNJ)] It is a fundamental, important tool that we must promote the implementation of, because everyone must know it, it must be applied. It is the responsibility of everyone involved in the justice system to comply with the terms of the protocol. It’s not just the prosecutor, it’s not just the judge, it’s the attorney who defends the accused.”
The protocol in question is Recommendation CNJ n. 128/2022, which guides the judiciary to understand the gender perspective in order to overcome stereotypes and prejudices in their judgments.