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Document Type

Feature Article

Publication Date

Spring 5-1-2009

Publication Title

Washington University Undergraduate Research Digest: WUURD 4(2)


Peer Editor: Morgan Grossman-McKee; Faculty Mentor: Jami Ake

Directed by feminist pressure to respond more adequately to the problem of domestic violence in the 1980s, the Brazilian government created all- female police stations to deal only with reports of violence against women. Using field research done in these all-female police stations in Brazil (DDMs), this study analyzes the ways in which the criminal justice system and a woman-centered advocacy approach can be more holistically incorporated into domestic violence response systems in the United States. Based on interviews and observations conducted within these Brazilian police stations, this research proposes that the DDMs demonstrate an important connection between criminal justice goals and advocacy goals in domestic violence response services. This connection, combined with the innovative structure of the DDMs, presents important models for existing domestic violence response systems in the United States as they struggle to keep up with the increasing number of immigrant women in need of diverse services. By applying successful aspects of the Brazilian domestic violence response network to the imperfect system in the United States, this research proposes that immigrant women in the United States will be best served by a network that focuses on women’s particular, life-generated needs rather than on pre-structured advocacy goals. Additionally, the study suggests that combining the accountability and justice offered by the criminal justice system with the support and empowerment offered through advocacy services will provide more appropriate services to immigrant women in the U.S. Ultimately, by juxtaposing the system in Brazil with the system in the United States, this study hopes to propose ways in which an international dialogue can help create sustainable and realistic solutions for women in violent relationships.

From the Washington University Undergraduate Research Digest: WUURD, Volume 4, Issue 2, Spring 2009. Published by the Office of Undergraduate Research.

Henry Biggs, Director of Undergraduate Research and Associate Dean in the College of Arts & Sciences; Joy Zalis Kiefer, Undergraduate Research Coordinator, Co-editor, and Assistant Dean in the College of Arts & Sciences; Kristin Sobotka, Editor.


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