Are favelas safe?

City of God
Favelas are often associated with violence, and labeled dangerous, but this perception is often perpetrated by negative media portrayal. Yes, violence and drugs do exist in favelas but drugs and violence are not the defining issue of life there. There are different types of favelas. Some are governed by drug traffickers, others by militia which are community members who took it upon themselves to protect their community, and there are favelas that have police stationed within.

Usually trafficker (bandido) ran favelas have strict rules regarding stealing, fighting, rape, ect. Traffickers do not want police to have a reason to enter their territory so they make sure they regulate it with a heavy fist. If you are caught stealing, or committing a crime it can result in severe punishment. For this reason the favela is safer than the streets. Occasionally you can run into problems if a rival gang tries to take over or also when the police raid the community. Not all favelas have these problems. Larger favelas in Rio de Janeiro like Rocinha and Vidigal don’t worry about rival gangs or police raids therefore these neighborhoods are safer and in result have more tourism.

It has been said that the police stationed favelas are safer than the rest because there are no police raids, or rival gangs fighting to gain territory. Currently in Rio de Janeiro police are stationed in Tavares Bastos, Santa Marta, City of God(Cidade de Deus), Chapeu Mangeiras, and Babylonia.

In general there is no doubt that violence and drugs are problems in favelas, but this issue is not just isolated within favelas in Brazil but throughout the world. It is unfair to define a favela as a dangerous and drug ridden because that’s only one aspect, the favelas are filled with many community centers, churches, and regular everyday people, but because of some bad favelas, a few movies and negative portrayal in the news favelas have been given an undeserved reputation


1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Nelly  |  December 8, 2010 at 11:43 pm

    Great website! I am about to go to Rio, what you are saying is really interesting!

    Thank you for those great information


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