PNS 2019: in one year, 29.1 million persons aged 18 and over experienced psychological, physical or sexual violence in Brazil

May 07, 2021 10h00 AM | Last Updated: May 11, 2021 12h05 PM

According to estimates from the National Survey of Health (PNS) 2019, about 18.3% (or 29.1 million) of the persons aged 18 and over in Brazil had experienced psychological, physical or sexual violence in the 12 months prior to the survey. Also, about 12% (or 3.5 million) interrupted their daily activities after having been victims of violence.

PNS estimated that 17.4% of the population (or 27.6 million persons) experienced psychological violence, 4.1% (6.6 million), physical violence, and 0.8% (1.2 million), sexual violence. Most perpetrators are persons acquainted with or related to the victims, and the latter are mostly women. Prevalence of episodes of violence were also high among youngsters and black and brown persons.

The survey also showed that 8.9% of the women aged 18 and over in the country had been victims of sexual violence at least once in their lives.

The average age for the first sexual relationship, in the population aged 18 and over was 17.3 years of age. Among men, the average age for the first sexual experience was 16.4 years of age, versus 18.1 years of age, in the case of women. Only 6.1% of the interviewees aged 18 and over reported having never had a sexual relationship.

Among persons aged 18 and over who had a sexual relationship in the 12 months prior to the date of the interview, only 22.8% (or 26.6 million persons) used a condom in all the sexual intercourses.

For the first time, PNS 2019 investigated symptoms or medical diagnoses of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). It is estimated that 0.6% of the population aged 18 and over (about 1 million persons) were diagnosed with STDs in the 12 months prior to the interview.

About 79.7% of the persons aged 18 and over never used to wear a seat belt in the front seat, either as drivers or passengers. Prevalence of use was higher among women (81.5%), in the urban area (82.6%) and among the elderly (84.8%). The proportion of persons wearing a seat belt in the back seat of the car was 54.6%.

In 2019, among those who reported they could ride a motorcycle, 82.6% always wore a helmet. Among interviewees who rode a motorcycle or drove a car, 70.0% said they never used a cell phone while riding or driving, whereas 3.1% did it always and 10.6%, occasionally.

In 2019, it was estimated that 2.6 million persons aged 18 and over had had some type of car accident: 68.7% were men and 31.3% were women.

Approximately 49.0% (or 48.5 million) of the employed persons aged 15 and over were exposed to factors that could affect their health, such as noise, radioactive material, urban waste or biological material, among others. Besides, about 10.6% of the employed persons aged 15 and over (or 7.8 million workers) have had seen a person smoking in an indoor workplace.

PNS also revealed that the average commute from home to work in the country (considering the trip back home) was 4.8 hours per week, being 4.9 hours in an urban area and 3.5 hours in a rural area. But the weekly average for black persons (5.6 hours) was above that of brown persons (4.9 hours) and white persons (4.4 hours).

Almost 3 million did not have any family support network, and a total 603 thousand of them were elderly persons (aged 60 and over).

18.3% of the population experienced psychological, physical or sexual violence in the 12 months prior to the interview

The PNS 2019 questionnaire on violence was revised and now includes a list of types of violence (psychological, physical and sexual). Due to that change in methodology, it is not possible to compare results of PNS 2019 with those of the 2013 edition.

In 2019, about 29.1 million persons aged 18 and over in the country (or 18.3% of this age group) were victims of psychological, physical or sexual violence in the 12 months prior to the survey. The percentage of women was bigger (19.4%) that that of men (17.0%).

Prevalence of violent cases is highest among blacks and browns (20.6% and 19.3%), versus 16.6% for white persons. Prevalence was of 22.5% among persons with an income of up to 1/4 of a minimum wage and of 16.9% for those with earnings above five minimum wages. About 3.5 million persons (or 12.0% of the victims) had to interrupt their usual activities after being victims of violence. Prevalence among women (15.4%) is twice as among men (7.6%).

2.3 million victims of assault sought medical assistance

PNS 2019 also investigated consequences to the health of victims of psychological, physical or sexual violence. These consequences have been classified as psychological (fear, sadness, discouragement, difficulty to sleep, anxiety, depression and other psychological consequences); physical, (bruises, cuts, fractures, burns or other lesions or injuries); and sexual (sexually transmitted disease or unwanted pregnancy).

Approximately 2.3 million victims sought medical assistance, which means 15.6% of the persons who reported facing consequences as victims of violence. Among men, that percentage was 13.2% and, among women, 16.9%. By color or race, the percentages were 17.5% of white persons, 14.8% of brown persons and 13.4% of black ones.

Psychological violence is reported by 17.4% of the population and 18.6% of the women

In 2019, 27.6 million persons aged 18 and over reported having experienced psychological violence in the 12 months preceding the survey, that is: 17.4% of the population in this age group and 95.0% of the persons had been victims of some type of violence.

The percentage of female victims was bigger (18.6%) than that of men (16.0%). Prevalence of the population aged 18 to 29 (25.3%) surpassed that of the population aged 60 and over (9.6%). Prevalence of black persons (19.3%) and brown ones (18.3%) surpassed that of white persons (15.9%). The group with the lowest income (up to 1/4 of a minimum wage) had the victims (21.1%), compared to the group that earned more than 5 minimum wages (16.2%).

About 59.1% of the victims of psychological violence were offended, humiliated or ridiculed in front of other people, and the rate of women (61.3%) surpassed that of men (56.2%). Having been yelled or sworn at was mentioned by 76.4% of the victims, also with a prevalence of women (79.2%) over men (72.8%).

Psychological violence: partners and family members are the main perpetrators of violence against women

The most often mentioned perpetrator of violence were: spouse, partner or boyfriend/girlfriend (including former ones), in 24.5% of the answers. In this index, the rate of women is more than twice (32%) as that of men (14.7%).

In 22.2% of the reports, the perpetrator was a friend, colleague or neighbor, being 27.8% for men and 18.0% for women. An unknown person was appointed in 19.6% of the cases (13.6% for women and 27.5% for men) and a father, father in law, mother in law, brother, sister, son or daughter in 12.7% of the reports (15.9% for women and 8.4% for men). For 43% of the victims, the household was the place of the latest or most serious occurrence. In this case, the rate of women (55.3%) was twice as that of men (26.6%).

Physical violence is most frequent among youngsters and blacks and browns

PNS 2019 shows that 6.6 million persons aged 18 an over experienced physical violence in the 12 months prior to the survey, which represents 4.1% of the population in this age group (4.2% for women and 4.0% for men). Prevalence was among youngsters (18 to 29 years of age): 7.7%. Black and brown persons (5.2% and 4.9%, respectively, were more often victims of this type of violence than white persons (3.2%). The group with the lowest earnings had the highest level of vulnerability: 7.2% of the persons without income and up to ¼ of a minimum wage and 2.6% of the persons with an income above five minimum wages.

Among the types of violence listed in the survey, the prevailing ones were: being pushed, held with force or having something thrown at in one’s direction in order to cause injury (62.9%); being slapped (43.0%); being threatened or hurt with a knife, gun or another object (33.7%); being punched, kicked or pulled by the hair (28.9%); and being strangled, asphyxiated or burned on purpose (9.2%).

52.4% of the perpetrators of physical violence against women were their partners or ex-partners

The most often mentioned group of perpetrators mentioned in terms of physical violence was spouse, partner, or boyfriend/girlfriend, with 35.9% of the answers. The percentage of women (52.4%) was more than three times as that of men (16.3%). In second place were unknown persons, with 22.1% of the answers, but figures are reversed: the rate of men (34.5%) was more than three times that of women (11.6%). The perpetrator was a friend, a colleague or a neighbor, for 15.3%, being 23.1% for men and 8.7% for women.

The household was the place of the latest (or most serious) occurrence mentioned by victims of physical violence (54.0% of the answers), mainly among women (72.8%, versus 31.7% for men). In public places (29.0%), there was bigger occurrence among men (42.1%, versus 17.9% among women).  

53.3% of the perpetrators of sexual violence against women were partners or ex-partners

In 2019, about 1.2 million persons aged 18 and over experienced sexual violence in the 12 months prior to the interview (or 0.8% of that age group), being 885 thousand women (or 1.0% of them) and 332 thousand men (or 0.4% of them). About 72.7% of the victims were women.

Persons aged 18 to 29 registered the highest rate (1.6%). By color or race of the victim, differences were not statistically relevant: black persons with 0.9% (or 166 thousand persons), brown persons, with 0.8% (534 thousand) and white persons, with 0.7% (503 thousand persons).

Among the types of violence, there was a predominance of victims who reported having been touched, handled, kissed or having had parts of their body exposed without consent (79.7% of the victims of sexual violence, being 76.1% for women and 89.3% for men). Prevalence of victims who were threatened or forced to have sexual relationships or any sexual activity without consent was of 50.3%, being 57.1% for women and 32.2% for men.

Perpetrators most often mentioned by the victims of sexual violence were spouses, partners, boyfriends/girlfriends and also former ones: 45.6% of the cases, with a considerable difference between women (53.3%) and men (25.3%).

The most often mentioned place was the household of victims (52.3%), with a rate of 61.6% for women and 27.4% for men. Public places (21.5%) and work, education establishments or bars and restaurants (19.4%).

8.9% of the adult women have been victims of sexual violence at least once

Persons who reported no having experienced sexual violence in the 12 months prior to the survey were asked if they had been victims of sexual violence once. Considering both questions, 9.4 million persons aged 18 and over were victims of sexual violence, regardless of the period, which corresponds to 5.9% of the total population, a higher rate for women (8.9%) than for men (2.5%).

Persons aged 18 to 29 made up a bigger proportion (7.2%) than persons aged 60 years of age and over (3.5%). By color or race and per capita household income, there were no statistically significant changes.

79.7% wore a seat belt in the front seat and 54.6%, in the back seat

In the country, in 2019, 79.7% of the persons aged 18 years of age and over wore a seat belt in the front seat of the car or when driving or as passengers. That encompassed vehicles such as taxis, app transportation and the like. Women were a higher percentage (81.5%) than men (77.7%). In the urban area, 82.6% adopted that measure and in the urban rural area, 61.1% did. The lowest rates were in the North Region (69.5%) and in the Northeast (69.7%) and the highest, in the Southeast (85.4%), South (84.6%) and Central West (81.8%).

The proportion of persons who always wore a seat belt was 54.6%.

82.6% of the motorcyclists wore a helmet

In Brazil, among those who rode a motorcycle, 82.6% always wore a helmet. Among persons with a higher level of schooling that percentage was the highest (91.6%) and among those with a lower level of schooling. the lowest (74,4%). A clear distinction was also observed between the habitual use of the equipment in the rural area (60.7%) and in the urban area (89.2%).

The South (95.7%), Central West (95.0%) and Southeast (94.4%) recorded the biggest percentages of persons who wore a helmet when riding, and North (69.5%) eand Northeast (68.6%), the smallest proportions.

The proportion of persons aged 18 years of age and over who were a helmet as passengers of a motorcycle in Brazil, being 77.3%, being 81.8% in the urban area and 57.6% in the rural area.

70.0% of the drivers said they never use a cell phone while driving

Among persons who drove a car or rode a motorcycle, 70.0% never used a cell phone while driving or riding. Other 3.1% Always did and 10.6% did that sometimes.

59.5% of the traffic acidentes with bodily injury involved motorcyclists

In 2019, 3.9 million persons aged 18 and over (or 2.4% of this age group) reported having a traffic accident resulting in bodily injury in the 12 months prior to the survey. That percentage was highest in the North (3.4%) and Central West (3,2%) and lower in the South (2.0%), Southeast (2.1%) and Northeast (2.7%).

Motorcycle was the main mean of transportation at the time of the accident, representing 59.5% of the cases. The car was in second place, with 31.0% of the cases. In 9.5%, the accident involved pedestrians or other means of transportation, such as bicycles, buses, etc.

For the first time, PNS investigated symptoms or diagnosis of transmitted diseases

The module on transmitted diseases is one of the new topics included in the PNS 2019, with the investigation of the presence of cough, stains and numbness, Chagas disease and sexually transmitted diseases.

In 2019, about 2.9% of the population aged 18 and over in the country (or 4.6 million persons) had had a cough for three or more weeks, and 1.2% of this population (or 1.9 million persons) had stains and numbness in part of their skin. Also, about 660 thousand persons aged 18 and over (or 0.4%of this group) were diagnosed with Chagas disease at some time in their lives.

In 2019, 1 million persons were diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease

In terms of sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs), about 0.6% of the population aged 18 and over in Brazil reported having been diagnosed withh STDs in the 12 months prior to the interview, approximately 1 million persons.

For persons aged 18 and over diagnosed with some sexually transmitted infection in the 12 months prior to the survey, PNS investigated possible guidance received from a health professional. Among the types of guidance investigated: informing their sexual partners about the infection, 84.5%; regular use of condoms, 83.9%; being tested for HIV, 75.4%; being tested for syphilis, 73.7%; being tested hor hepatitis B and C, 68.6%; and being vaccinated against hepatitis B, 46.7%.

Average age for the first sexual relayionship is 17.3 years

In Brazil, 93,9% of the persons aged 18 and over informed they had had at least one sexual relationship in life. The proportion of men who reported having had a sexual relationship (94.8%) was above the percentage of women (93.0%). Among youngsters aged 18 to 29, 88.3% had had a sexual relationship once in life, a rate that rises to 93.2% among persons aged 60 and over.

The average age for the first sexual relationship, in the population aged 18 and over was estimated at 17.3. The North Region had the lowest average age (16.4 years of age) and the Southeast, the highest (17.6 years of age). Among men, the average age for the first sexual experience was 16.4 anos, below the average of women, 18.1 years of age.

The average age for the first sexual experience tends to increase with the household income, ranging between 16.5 years of age, in the population with per capita household income of up to 1/ a minimum wage, to 18.1 years of age, among persons with an income above 5 minimum wages.

22.8% of the population aged 18 and over always wore a condom

In Brazil, among persons aged 18 and over who had a sexual relationship in the 12 months prior to the survey, only 22.8% (or 26.6 million persons in this age group) used a condom in all their sexual relationships in this period.

Whereas 36.5% of the persons aged 18 to 29 years of age said they used a condom in all their sexual relationships, that indicator was 21.7% among persons aged 30 to 39, 17.9% in the group aged 40 to 59 and 11.6% among entre as persons aged 60 and over.

About 22.8% of the persons reported having always used a condom; 17.1% sometimes; 59.0% none; and 1.1% of the informants refused to answer. Among men, 57.7% reported having had all their sexual relationships without a condom and 16.7% used it sometimes. Among women, 60.5% had all their sexual relationships without a condom and 17.4% reported having used it sometimes.

The proportion of persons reported not having used a condom increased with the age: 34.2% of the persons aged 18 to 29 did not use a condom in any of their sexual relationships in the 12 previous months, versus 82.0% of the persons aged 60 and over.

Trust in partner is the main cause for non-use of condoms

For those who did not use a condom in any of their sexual relationships in the last 12 months, or for those who used a condom sometimes, but not in the latest relationship, PNS investigated the main reason for that behavior.

The answer of 73.4% of the informants (78.6% of the men and 68.0% of the women) was trust in their partner. Among men, the second most frequent reason was not liking it (9.8%) and the third was using other contraceptives (8.0%). Among women, the second reason was use of other contraceptives (16.8%), followed by not liking it (7.0%).

Average commute from home to work was of 4.8 hours per week

In 2019, about 86.6% of the persons aged 15 years of age and over, employed in the week of reference, commuted from home to work (85.7 million workers).

The average commute was (round trip) was 4.8 hours per week, being 4.9 hours in an urban area and 3.5 hours in a rural area. The average time for black persons (5.6 hours) was above that of brown persons (4.9 hours) and white persons (4.4 hours).

Work during the night prevailed among men

About 13.3% of the employed persons aged 15 and over (or 13.2 million workers) usually worked between 8 am and 5 pm, with higher prevalence of men (16.3%) compared to women (9.6%).

Highest prevalence of night work was of persons with complete high school and incomplete higher education (16.1%) and with per capita household income above 5 minimum wages (16.9%). Among the groups of activities, lodging and feeding (28.7%) and transportation, storage and mailing (26.9%) had the biggest percentages.

7.8 million workers had seen someone smoking in an indoor workplace

About 10.6% of the employed persons aged 15 and over (or 7.8 million workers) had seen someone smoking in an indoor workplace is some of their jobs, in the 30 days preceding the survey. Prevalence was 17.5% for persons without schooling or with incomplete elementary education who used to work indoor and 5.0% for those with complete higher education.

49.0% of the workers were exposed to health risk factors

About 48.5 million employed persons aged 15 and over (or 49.0% of the workers) were exposed to factors that could affect their health. Prevalence among men (59.7%) surpassed prevalence among women (35.6%).

Approximately 25.5% of the persons were exposed to intense noise; 23.5% to the sun; 13.8% to pesticides, gasoline, diesel, formaldehyde, lead, mercury, chrome, chemotherapeutical substances etc.; 11.5% mineral powder, powder made of sand, gravel, glass, asbestos or steel; 6.7% to urban residue (waste); 5.4% to biological material (blood, needles, secretions); and 1.5% to radioactive material (transportation, reception, storage, X-ray).

About 60.8% of the persons with up to incomplete elementary school were exposed to these factors, versus 32.6% for those with complete higher education. Prevalence among black persons (54.1%) and brown persons (52.3%) surpassed that of white persons (44.6%).

Almost three million persons received no support from the family

About 76.8% of the persons aged 15 years of age had at least at least a family member or friend to count on; 19.3 had no friend, but at least one family member or relative; 2.1%, had at least one friend, but no family member or relative and 1.8% had no friend, family member of relative to count on. Almost three million persons had no support from their families, and 603 thousand of them were 60 years of age and over.

In the 12 months prior to the survey, 52.0% of the persons aged 15 and over gathered with other persons to practice sports, physical, recreational or artistic activities and 68.9% attended collective activities related.to their own or other religions.