Violence in the favelasLast month, in response to a wave of criminal gang violence, a major militarised police operation involving over 2,600 public security forces was conducted in the Alemao complex of slums, turning parts of the 'marvellous city' into a war zone. As in 2007, residents of some of the most deprived communities or favelas in the city were caught in the cross fire of this armed conflict, which saw over 50 people killed and a 14 year old girl died from a stray bullet. 12,000 children were affected by school closures, and many more residents could not leave their home or attend work. ChildHope's Brazilian partner Projeto Legal, who are implementing a project protecting the rights of children in contact with the law, have expressed serious concerns about the repressive and short-term focus of such mega-operations which put at risk the safety and well-being of the broader community.
The impact of violence in favelas on childrenChildren and young people from favelas are disproportionally affected by different forms of violence, exclusion and discrimination. As a result, children face severe violations to their rights to protection, education, justice, and even to life. 42% of adolescents and youth deaths in Brazil are associated with armed murder, mostly from lethal violence and shootings linked to police or gang violence in the neighbourhoods where they live. Police profiling and media portrayals often mean that favelas are seen as 'factories for producing criminals', leading to oppressive and violent police action and punitive justice against poor, young and often black favela residents which perpetuates poverty and limits opportunities.
In the context of the forthcoming World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016 young people in favelas are at even greater risk of such violence. As the city prepares for these high profile events, the authorities will be keener than ever to present Rio as a safe, crime free place with poor communities likely to feel the full force of police violence. In addition to this, the high number of tourists in the city will increase the risk of sexual exploitation for marginalized children and young people, which is often exacerbated by such major tourist and sporting events.