Private Conflicts, Public Powers: Domestic Violence in the Courts in Latin America

  • Fiona Macaulay
Part of the Studies of the Americas book series (STAM)


This Brazilian saying signals the supposedly private character of the marital relationship, even when it is an abusive one. This chapter examines how the courts in Latin America, and specifically in Brazil, have increasingly “stuck their spoon” into the issue of spousal abuse. Other contributors to this volume have noted the judicialization of gender relations in Latin America in recent years through the production of jurisprudence upholding collective gender rights by newly empowered supreme courts and constitutional courts. This has often been the result of the successful mobilization of women’s movements during earlier constitutional moments around issues of principle, such as sexual freedom, reproductive choice, and affirmative action. However, my focus here will be on a different aspect of the judicialization of social relations; that is, the way in which thousands of ordinary women have increasingly resorted to the lower-level courts for protection of their individual right to life and physical integrity in situations of domestic violence.


Domestic Violence Justice System Restorative Justice Criminal Court Public Power 


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Copyright information

© Rachel Sieder, Line Schjolden, and Alan Angell 2005

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  • Fiona Macaulay

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