The State Law of Rio de Janeiro, Law No. 7,835, published in the local official gazette on January 10, 2018, imposes penalties for companies headquartered in the State of Rio de Janeiro which use/hire advertising considered to be misogynist, sexist or to stimulate violence against women, based on the justification that the media would commonly present women in a submissive, sexist, despised or belittled position.

For the purposes of this law, any advertising containing image, word and/or audio which exhibits, discloses and/or encourages sexual or physical violence against women, misogyny and/or sexism shall be punishable by fine and suspension of the advertising.

The fine shall be calculated according to the type of the communication media used – printed, sound, television and/or social media. The amount of the fine may vary from R$33.000,00 (approximately US$10,000.00) to R$658.000,00 (approximately US$200,000.00) and it will be cumulative, if more than one type of media is used. The collected amount will be allocated to the Special Fund of Women's Rights.

Any individual or corporation may submit a complaint to the State Department for Human Rights and Policies for Women and the Elderly, which shall form a supervisory committee composed of thirteen members to examine the complaint within sixty days.

The enactment of this State law disregarded the exclusive power granted by the Brazilian Federal Constitution to the federal government to legislate on commercial advertising matters and the existence of the Brazilian Advertising Self-Regulation Council, which is already responsible for safeguarding ethics in advertising and preventing offensive and abusive content.

In fact, it is important to monitor the enforcement of this recent law and how advertisers and agencies shall react to its implementation since this law may become ineffective or be declared unconstitutional or even have an adverse effect on the local economy discouraging companies to have their offices in the State of Rio de Janeiro.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.