Last July, Patricia fatally stabbed a female relative of her then-partner in a confrontation, provoked by what she described as continuous, poisonous innuendo. “I couldn’t stand it any more,” she said. “I took the life of another person.” She was just 17.
A heated debate over whether teenagers who commit violent crimes can be rehabilitated, or should be tried as adults and incarcerated in the country’s packed and dangerous prisons, has split Brazil. High-profile violent crimes involving adolescents have inflamed the issue and polarised opinion around a controversial measure in congress to lower the age of criminal responsibility from 18 to 16. A vote is planned this month.