Daily Video

July 16, 2014

Graffiti artists take to the streets of Brazil to combat violence against women


Brazilian street artists used the spotlight of the World Cup to highlight a problem close to home – domestic abuse. Use this PBS NewsHour video and educational resource to let your students explore this story from July 15, 2014.

Key Vocabulary

domestic abuse – cruelty or violence (often regular or repeated) within the home, typically involving a family member or significant other.

graffiti – writing or drawings scribbled, scratched, or sprayed illicitly (illegally) on a wall or other surface in a public place.

Key Places


brazil map photo
The start of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil was cause for celebration, but amidst the partying were also protests. Many Brazilians spoke out against the $11 billion their country spent on the games; money, they say, could have been used to build desperately needed schools and hospitals, instead of soccer stadiums.

But the protests in Brazil haven’t all been violent, or even all about soccer, and one of the most peaceful demonstrations involved public art.

Graffiti is a powerful tool for political protests around the world, but in Rio de Janeiro, it’s much more than that. In this city, street art is woven into the fabric of the urban landscape.
It’s bold in scale, often covers entire city blocks, and also legal thanks to a federal law decriminalizing street art in 2009.

“They don’t call the cops to harass you,” said graffiti artist Bruno Bogossian, “They are probably going to offer you water or coffee or ask you if you need some paint to finish your wall. It’s incredible. We’re lucky.”

Bogossian is among the artists who gathered during the World Cup to fill a kilometer-long city block with murals, all protesting domestic violence.

“Graffiti is special because, when you do art in your room, in your home, in your career, it’s just for you and sometimes you will make a show, exhibition, so more people see,” said Panmela Castro, the graffiti artist who organized the project, “But when you do it in the street, you are communicating with everybody.”

Castro is considered as one of the best graffiti artists in Brazil, and her work can be seen around the world in big cities such as Berlin, Paris, New York City and even small towns like Madison, Wisconsin.

For Castro, using graffiti to promote women’s rights is personal. She says her first husband began abusing her shortly after they moved in together.

“When I moved in, everything changed,” said Castro, “He felt that he had the power and he started being aggressive. And what happened at the end of the week, he beat me.”

Castro is not alone. One out of every three women internationally will experience some form of gender-based violence in her lifetime, according to the International Rescue Committee. During the rally which coincided with the graffiti project, Castro spoke to the crowd about the situation in her country.

“A woman is beaten every five minutes,” Castro said through a translator, “And once every two hours, she is killed for being a woman. We have been painting here since 9:00 this morning. And in that time, four women have died in Brazil.”

Brazil passed its first law against domestic violence in 2006, and in 2008 Castro formed a group called Rede NAMI, a network of artists promoting women’s rights. She and her all-female team host graffiti workshops and visit schools throughout Rio de Janeiro with the aim of preventing domestic violence by working with and educating both girls and boys.

Warm up questions

1. Where is Brazil? What important event just took place there?
2. What is graffiti? Where do you see it?
3. What is domestic violence? Can you give a few examples of it? Note: make sure you answer this question carefully and keep in mind that some of your classmates may be experiencing domestic violence at home.

Discussion questions

1. Do you think Castro’s strategy of using graffiti to raise awareness about domestic violence worked? Explain your answer and make sure include specific examples from the video and text.
2. Why do you think that domestic violence occurs so frequently? Why might victims be unable to leave a household where domestic violence is occurring?
3. Would you like to see more graffiti in your neighborhood? Why or why not?

Writing prompt

1. Imagine a friend confides to you that they or someone in their family is a victim of domestic violence. What would you say to them? How might you support them to get the help they need? Who could you contact to help handle the situation?
2. The images of graffiti below were taken in the historic neighborhood of Castleberry Hill in Atlanta, Georgia. Which of the images do you like the best? Explain your choice and describe the message you think the artist was trying to convey.

graffitti brazil writing photo

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