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Security and violence in Rocinha – a favela in Rio de Janeiro

BRAZIL / Security in Rio Janeiro is about much more than police operations. It is about the people who live there, outsiders and how they live in a society where they are denied public services.

"We have more important things to talk about than guns and the police. It is inequality and lack of access to resources and opportunities that are our problems, since a pen kills more than a gun."

This was answered by a resident of one of Rio de Janeiro's favelas, Rocinha, when I asked what it was like to live in a district with violent clashes between different gangs and/or the city's police. For them it wasn't a segurança pública (public security) which was the most important security topic, it was, however a segurança humana (human security) and daily violence (everyday violence).

I ask what he means by a stroke of the pen, and he elaborates: "We don't get water and sewage. It has been done with the stroke of a pen that we don't get this, by those in power who choose us away. They will never come to Rocinha and see for themselves!”

Urban warfare

Before I traveled to Rio in May 2022 to do field work for a master's thesis in international relations and security studies, I prepared myself for topics such as police violence and security

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Tore Øvstebø Næss
Næss is the recipient of Habitat Norway's master's scholarship in urbanism 2021.

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