Rio de Janeiro has introduced a new state law which will see local companies penalised up to US$204,000 for using misogynistic or sexist advertising. Businesses headquartered in Rio de Janeiro could have their advertising materials suspended or face penalties if their messages include images, videos, words or audio materials that encourage violence against women or present them in a submissive or demeaning light.

As of 10 January, the state's Department for Human Rights and Policies for Women and the Elderly will monitor local media and deal with any complaints from individuals and corporations. The department has established a 13-member supervisory committee to oversee the law's enforcement and will respond to complaints within 60 days of notification.

Depending on the nature of the advertising, as well as the type of media used to advertise, fines will vary from R$33,000 (US$10,245) to R$658,000 (US$204,300). The committee can issue repeat fines for the same advertising series if more than one type of media is used, for example, if similar adverts are broadcast over radio and television. All proceeds will go to Brazil's Special Fund for Women's Rights, which aims to promote gender equality by providing social mobility opportunities for women.

While many have hailed the legislation as a step forward in fighting gender inequality, some local lawyers, including Isabel Boardman of Veirano Advogados, highlight that the law is unconstitutional, as it undermines the role of Brazil's national Advertising Self-Regulation Council, which is responsible for safeguarding advertising ethics under Brazil's Federal Constitution. Some fear that the law will also encourage companies to relocate their headquarters away from Rio de Janeiro rather than amend their advertising practices.

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