How Major Pricilla Transformed Rio’s Favelas

Americas Now

This week in our Game Changer segment we introduce you to someone who made it her mission to make one favela LESS dangerous.  She’s actually a policewoman.  And by working with state and local institutions she helped improve conditions in the community and gave residents a better model to live by.  As you’re about to see it wasn’t easy though.  We take you to Rio de Janiero, Brazil to meet “Major Pricilla.”

How Major Pricilla Transformed Rio\'s Favelas

How Major Pricilla Transformed Rio\'s Favelas

This week in our Game changer segment we introduce you to someone who made it her mission to make one favela LESS dangerous. She’s actually a policewoman. And by working with state and local institutions she helped improve conditions in the community and gave residents a better model to live by. As you're about to see it wasn’t easy though. We take you to Rio de Janiero, Brazil to meet “Major Pricilla.”
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The favelas of Rio de Janeiro are infamous for their high crime rates. The narrow alleyways that make up these slums are often only accessible by foot and make them difficult to patrol. In 2004, residents of favelas were living in fear on a daily basis, terrorized by the lack of regulation and the increased violence and crime. However, in 2008, things began to change. Brazil’s economic boom began to reach the favelas, bringing with it increased law enforcement and officer patrols. One of the pioneering forces behind increasing the safety in these slum neighborhoods is Pricilla de Oliveira Azevedo, or more warmly known as Major Pricilla.

Azevedo has been on the police force for over 15 years, but her true turning point came in 2007 when she was kidnapped in a favela. After that incident, she felt she could relate to the vulnerability, neglect, and everyday danger that favela residents experience basis. Today, she is currently in command of the police pacification squad in the Rochina favela, one of the most densely populated slums in the city. Not only is she working to keep families safe, but she is doing it as a woman, a rarity for the Brazilian police force. In 2012, Azevedo was honored by Hilary Clinton and Michelle Obama in Washington with an International Women of Courage Award.  It was unexpected for her, but an affirmation that she is changing the game not only for favela residents living in fear, but for women working to gain respect as law enforcement officers.

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