Reimaging the policing of gender violence: lessons from women?s police stations in Brasil and Argentina

Kerry Carrington    
Melissa Bull    
Gisella Lopes Gomes Pinto Ferreira    
Maria Victoria Puyol    


The criminalisation of domestic violence during the 1970s and 1980s was lauded by feminists as a victory, as the state taking responsibility for the safety of women. The problem was that its regulation was delegated to a masculinist judicial system and its policing delegated to a militarised and masculinised police service that left victims disappointed, re-victimised or disbelieved. Our paper investigates how to re-imagine the policing of victims/survivors of gender-based violence from a women-centred perspective. Drawing on secondary and primary empirical research on women's police stations (WPS), that first emerged in Brasil in 1985 and Argentina in 1988, this paper investigates whether this model could offer an innovative remedy to the masculinised ill-equipped traditional models of policing of gender-based violence. Framed by southern theory our project reverses the notion that knowledge/policy transfer should flow from the Anglophone countries of the Global-North to the Global-South. Our project aimed to discover, firstly, how women's police stations ? a unique invention of the Global-South, respond to and prevent gender-based violence and, secondly, what aspects could inform the development of new approaches to policing and prevention of gender-based violence elsewhere in the world. We conclude that this uniquely South American innovation might serve as an inspiration to Australia and elsewhere in the world struggling with the shadow pandemic of gender violence. Our paper draws on original empirical and historical research undertaken in Brasil, Argentina and Australia to offer new practical and conceptual insights into how to enhance the policing of gender-based violence.

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