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The paradigm of full protection that guided the creation of the ECA brought the issue of citizenship to the center of legislation and public policies for juvenile offenders. However, the ECA makes no specific mention to issues related to gender and race. The only mention of gender is in regard to the procedures for the punishment and combating of violence and sexual exploitation of children and adolescents, which is an unquestionable achievement brought about by the Statute (Brasil 1990). However, in addition to a specific agenda toward combating sex crimes, it would be expected that the document contemplates the positive expression of rights related to sex, gender, and sexuality, especially for the implementation of educational measures.

Specific language regarding gender, however, was included in later legislation amending the ECA. The National System of Socio-Educational Services (SINASE) was approved in 2006 by the National Council for the Rights of Children and Adolescents (CONANDA) (Brasil 2006) and was established by Federal Law No. 12,594, of January 18, 2012. The SINASE regulates the execution of socio-educational measures throughout the national territory (Brasil 2012). In order to determine the norms and standards SINASE would follow, the federal government prepared and published the National Plan for SocioEducational Services in 2013. Included in its guidelines is the guarantee of the “right to sexuality and reproductive health, respecting gender identity and sexual orientation.”

In the resolution creating the CONANDA (Brasil 2006), there are more specific guidelines on the issue of differential treatment for men and women in fulfillment of socio-educational measures. In that document, the socio-educational measures are defined by parameters organized by a series of strategic axis, among which is the axis of “ethno-racial diversity, gender, and sexual orientation.” With respect to educational management within the juvenile justice system, the document states that it is the responsibility of all institutions and/or programs that perform educational measures “to ensure equity in the socio-educational measures provided to adolescents of both sexes, especially with regard to the quality and supply of services and activities” (Brasil 2006: 58).

With regard to architectural parameters, SINASE guarantees physical separation between male and female dormitories for detainment as well as special housing to accommodate adolescent mothers and their newborns and babies up to 6 months of age (Brasil 2006: 70). Law 12,594/2012 specifically states that “to ensure the exercise of sexual and reproductive rights, through deliberations over juveniles with children in detainment units and visitation of children to their mothers and teenage parents; as well as access to conjugal visits” is a goal to be fully met by the Secretariat on Human Rights (SDH) and State/District systems by the end of the year 2023.

However, for now, the annual survey conducted by SINASE compiling data on detainment and supervision of juveniles indicates that in 2015, the female adolescents accounted for 4 % (984) of the total 23,913 adolescents detained or under supervision in the country. These teens were distributed between 37 (7.93 %) exclusively female units and another 52 (11.15 %>) mixed institutions, with five (05) Federal States responding that they had no units solely dedicated to female adolescents.

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