"My Body Is Not A Game": Brazilian Women Speak Out Against Domestic Violence

Photo: Courtesy of Plan International/Natalia Mour
It is as widespread as popular sport. From rural provinces to dense slums and big cities, violence against women and girls is pervasive in Brazil. According to the United Nations Development Fund for Women, in São Paulo alone, a woman is assaulted every 15 seconds. But while the world celebrates the Olympics, in domestic violence, there are no winners — only brave survivors who are raising their voices in an effort to put a stop to the Brazil's underreported epidemic.
The violence extends beyond abuse to femicide. It's estimated that in Brazil, 15 women are killed each day simply for being women, according to figures cited by President Dilma Rousseff. Brazil ranks fourth in the world in terms of the number of child marriages, which often mean young girls face abuse at the hands of an older spouse. This abuse takes place both behind closed doors and in public places.

For decades, women's rights activists have fought to address it. But the problem was once again brought to the fore this spring, when a video of a 16-year-old girl being sexually assaulted by several men was published on social media. The brutal attack laid bare the reality that thousands of women and girls face every day.

But those girls and women are raising their voices and taking advantage of the spotlight of the 2016 Rio Games to push for real change.

Ahead, women and men from the northeastern city of São Luís, Maranhão, share their experiences with violence and their hopes for the future with Plan International and Refinery29.

Angela Singh is a press officer for
by Plan International, a nonprofit organization working to end child poverty. The photos and captions in this essay were provided by Plan International. The women in this story asked that their last names be omitted for their safety.