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  • An art installation on Rio de Janeiro

    An art installation on Rio de Janeiro's Copacabana beach calls attention to femicide and the culture of gender violence in Brazil. | Photo: Reuters

Published 1 January 2017

In Brazil, though mass shootings are not common, about one-third of femicides are carried out by the victim's current or former romantic partner.

A New Year’s party in Brazil’s southeastern city of Campinas came to a bloody and tragic end shortly before midnight Saturday when a gunman stormed the celebrations and killed a dozen people, including his ex-wife and son, before committing suicide.

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Victims of the attack over 60 miles from the city of Sao Paulo reportedly included the shooter’s former wife and their 8-year-old son, leading police in the state of Sao Paulo to believe that the gunman was motivated by anger over their breakup.

According to local media, the shooter, identified only as Sidney Araujo, had not come to terms with the separation with his wife, which was reportedly still in progress, and had been upset about the issue of custody of their son. One witness reportedly heard the shooter say he was going to kill his ex-wife for taking custody of the boy, Globo TV reported.

A police spokesman could not confirm to Reuters the identity or age of the victims, but Brazil’s Folha de S. Paulo reported that the shooting victims included nine women, two men and one child.

Local media reported at 15 people had been shot and three were hospitalized in critical condition. The former wife of the shooter and 10 more of the victims reportedly died on the scene of the attack, while another person died on the way to the hospital, local media reported, citing military police.

O Globo reported that preliminary police investigations suggest that at least 30 shots were fired with a handgun. At least two youth attending the party managed to escape the gunfire by hiding in the bathroom after the shooter barged into the event, local media reported.

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A witness told police that shots were heard just before midnight, but initially mistaken for fireworks, Globo TV reported. Another witness thought the shooting was an armed robbery until a victim appeared bleeding from the leg at the neighbor's house.

According to Globo TV, authorities found a recording in the shooter’s car in which he apologizes for something that would happen, without indicating specifically what it would be.

Although Brazil suffers from high rates of violence and crime, unlike in the United States, mass shooting are not common.

The shooting comes amid a resurgence of the movement against femicide in South America under the banner “Ni Una Menos,” or “Not One Less,” a slogan that calls for not one more woman to be a victim of femicide, the crime of killing a woman for her gender.

According to Brazil’s 2015 Violence Map and 2016 Atlas of Violence reports, the country’s femicide rate is the fifth highest in the world and on average 13 women are murdered every day. Black women are the most vulnerable group and suffered a 54 percent increase in the number of murders over 10 years between 2003 and 2013, while the killing of white women dropped by 9.8 percent in the same period.

In Brazil, it is estimated that about half of all femicides are committed by a member of the victim’s family and about one-third are carried out by the victim's current or former romantic partner.

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