Brazil: justice bans invoking the “honor crime” for feminicides

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The Brazilian Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional to invoke “an honor killing” as a mitigating circumstance in femicide cases.

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“The thesis of the legitimate defense of honor is unconstitutional, because it is contrary to the constitutional principles of human dignity, the protection of life and gender equality”, indicates the Court in a decision rendered Friday night.

Brazil recorded 1,326 feminicides in 2019, an increase of 7.8% compared to the previous year, according to the latest figures from the NGO Brazilian Forum of Public Security.

In 2017, the decision of a popular jury to acquit a man, Vagner Rosário Modesto, of attempted murder of his ex-wife, whom he had stabbed three times a year earlier in the city of Nova Era (Minas Gerais, south-east), had aroused indignation.

His defense had pleaded “self-defense of honor” and the accused explained that he had been blinded by jealousy when he saw a message on his ex-wife’s cell phone.

Another feminicide shocked the country in 1976 when Angela Diniz, a figure in the jet set from Rio, had been shot by a businessman. The latter had been sentenced to two years in prison after claiming that he had “killed for love”.

After a mobilization under the slogan “Who loves does not kill”, the man was retried and finally sentenced to 15 years in prison.