Message-Id: <>
Date: Fri, 16 Jan 98 12:28:16 CST
From: John Kilcrann <>
Subject: Brazil: 63% have suffered violence in Sao Paulo
Article: 25742

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News from Brazil, no. 299, 15 January 1998

63% of residents of Sao Paulo city have suffered violence

A survey carried out by the United Nations’ Latin American Institute for the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Delinquents (ILANUD) together with Datafolha and the‘Folha de Sao Paulo’ shows that 63% (approximately 4.3 million people) of the residents of Sao Paulo city, 16 years of age or over, suffered violence during the last five years (36% suffered more than once such an act; 27% suffered one such act). The results show that richer people are more frequently victims of such violence. For example, 83% of people interviewed who have a monthly family income of at least US $1800 suffered such violence. On the other hand, 49% of people interviewed in the survey with a monthly family income of up to US $600 were victims of such violence. 76% of people interviewed who declared that their principal activity was study had been victims of such acts of violence. 70% of the victims were men; 71% were in the 16 to 24 age bracket; 69% were single; 86% had studied in college/university and 75% lived in the central region of the city. The survey had as its’ objectives to study hidden violence the effects of which frequently is not included in official figures. The results of the survey were published in reports in the‘Folha de Sao Paulo' between January 01 and 05.

Eleven categories of violence were included in the survey—car theft, theft of objects from a car, vandalism of cars, theft of motor cycles and bicycles, break-ins, attempted break-ins, assault, theft of personal property, sexual offenses and physical aggression. The survey showed that the most common crime in the city of Sao Paulo is assault. A fifth of the population of the city (1.36 million people) were forced to hand over some object under threat from a gun between 1992 and 1996 in the city. Surveys using a similar methodology showed that 4% suffered such assaults in the United States and 2% in England and Italy. Countries with statistics closer to Brazil are Argentina (17%) and Uganda (24%). In the Sao Paulo survey the theft of personal property and physical aggression are next on the violence after assaults—16% and 14% respectively. Usually the victims knew the person who physically assaulted them. 18% were colleagues or supervisors; 17% were friends; 13% were family members; 11% of the aggressors were husbands or partners; 6% were former husbands or partners; 5% were former boy/girl friends and 1% were current boy/girl friends. 30% of car owners in the city had the experience of having minor damages such as the breaking of antennas or scratches on the paint intentionally caused to their vehicles.

The survey showed that 66% of the victims during the last five years did not register the crime with the police. The Secretariat for Public Security of the State of Sao Paulo had worked with a hypothesis that 30% of crimes go unreported. The survey shows however that the rate of notification is higher when more valuable items are stolen. 94% of stolen cars are reported to the police as well as 80% of stolen motor cycles. The‘Folha de Sao Paulo' reported on January 13 that from 1991 to November 1997, 1484440 vehicles were reported to have been stolen in Brazil. Of this total only 487958 were found and returned to their owners. During this same period a total of 792407 vehicles were stolen in the state of Sao Paulo alone. Only 262218 of this total were found. On the other hand only 18% of those who had goods stolen from a car reported the theft to the police; of those who had their homes broken into only 40% went to the police. The crime which is less reported is vandalism to cars (5%). Only 23% of assaults were reported and 10% of those who suffered sexual offenses reported the crime to the police.

8% of those interviewed had personal arms—projecting this statistic shows that there are arms in 770 thousand houses in the city of Sao Paulo. 58% of those who had arms claimed that the reason was to protect themselves against crime. 19% of those interviewed from families with an income of over US $1800 per month had arms and 3% of those interviewed from families with monthly incomes of up to US $600 owned arms. Of those who had studied in third level institutions 15% owned arms whilst only 4% of those who had finished studies at primary level owned arms. The person who has money to buy arms is the same as has money to live in the more secure condominiums and pay private guards commented sociologist Tulio Kahn who worked on the survey. Armed guards also abound in commercial establishments in the center of the city and principal business areas. A report in the‘Folha de Sao Paulo’ on December 20 showed that along one block on Oscar Frieire street in the upper-class Jardims area, 15 armed guards were attached to commercial establishments. The survey showed that the concentration of arms are found in neighborhoods of the city with lower incidents of violence. 53% of those interviewed in the survey replied that the police were not efficient in the work of crime prevention in their neighborhood.

9% of all women in the city of Sao Paulo have been victims of a sexual offense during the last five years according to the survey. In 68% of such crimes the aggressors were not known by the victims. 10% of such cases were registered with the police.—34% of victims believed that the police would do nothing if they reported the crime. During the five year period being surveyed 5383 cases of rape have been registered with the police in the State of Sao Paulo. 23% of the total of the sexual offense crimes listed in the survey were rape or rape attempts and in 76% of the cases the aggressor was acting alone.

Book published by high ranking police officers provokes protests

In mid December, five captains of the military police in Sao Paulo published a book entitled React! Prepare Yourself for Confrontation. The book defended three basic principles—people should react when they are victims of a violent action; the use of an arm is recommended if the person is well trained in its’ use and criminals are‘less human’ people and should be‘put out of combat'. One of items of advice given in the book is When someone is trying to kill you, aim fire at the part of the body which is easier hit but if at all possible aim at the head. The publication of the book was met by protests especially from human rights groups working to disarm the general population.

Proposals and suggestions made in the book went totally contrary to the policies of the Secretariat of Public Security which is responsible for the military police and which had been engaged in the campaign of disarmament during the weeks previous to the publication of the book. The authors also were discovered to have been infringing regulations of the military police in that they had part time jobs as instructors in a security company. On December 21, the Commander General of the Military Police in Sao Paulo, Carlos Alberto de Camargo removed four of the captains from their posts and they were appointed to office jobs in the military police. The fifth author who has formed part of the body-guard of former Governor Luis Antonio Fleury Filho for a number of years, was left in his post.