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Mapa do Acolhimento – or Safe Heaven Map – is a Brazilian initiative that has generated tens of thousands of hours worth of support for women in over 1,000 cities in Brazil since 2016. Through our website, women who have experienced any kind of gender-based violence (GBV) can get the support of pro bono psychologists and lawyers registered on Mapa’s platform. Every minute, 8 women are physically abused in Brazil, which urged the project to be nimble: Mapa has developed a pairing technology that allows the automatic connection between survivors and volunteers with just one click.

Since its launch, the relevance and urgency of our work has been widely recognized by civil society: more than 10,000 professionals have volunteered in the project over the years, more than R$ 400,000 (USD 76,000) have been raised in individual donations, and a large community on social media promote our work spontaneously on their own profiles. People’s willingness to take action against GBV is not by chance: in 2021 alone, every seven hours a woman was victim of femicide and – while Brazil is seeing a surge of violence against women and violence against girls (VAWG) – the country is also home to an unprecedented feminist movement ready to dismantle the patriarchal conditions that allow violence to happen.

In 2020, through a grant from the Sexual Violence Research Initiative, Mapa delved into the research world to assess the impact it generated both in the survivor’s lives and in Brazilian society at large. One of the main research findings was that, although GBV is a public health issue, public policies and institutions are not effectively tackling this issue. Despite having one of the world’s most comprehensive legislations to address GBV, there is a blatant lack of political will to implement laws and policies. Mapa believes that no woman should suffer alone. We understood through the service provision and the research done to assess our intervention that access to mental health and legal assistance are not stand-alone practices. The dynamics of GBV are complex and as such we require a comprehensive approach to increase the chances of women breaking the cycle of violence. Considering this finding, Mapa do Acolhimento is now expanding its work beyond service provision (i.e., the pairing of volunteers and survivors) to advocating for a systemic change in Brazil, and we believe we have all the tools required to do so.

Mapa has been channelling the power of collective action to push Brazilian authorities to take concrete measures against the epidemic of femicides in the country. Through online and offline mass mobilization campaigns, the project has gathered the support of over 150,000 people in support of women’s rights. We get to the end of 2022 thrilled by what we have done so far: this year we sparkled a movement against the use of  Also,  after an outrageous attempt of the far-right Brazilian government to stop survivors of sexual violence from accessing legal abortions in public health facilities, Mapa stepped in and managed to use collective action to shelve this draconian initiative.

If we want to commit as a society to a world where VAWG becomes ancient history, we need to foster the social fabric through mass mobilization to demand women’s rights from the State: housing, social assistance, access to jobs and education, day-care, and family planning are just a few of the services the government must provide to guarantee women’s most basic right – the right to life.

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Written by Sany Silva


About the Author

Sany Silva is the communications coordinator at Mapa do Acolhimento. She believes that information is an essential tool in women’s journey toward breaking the cycle of violence.


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