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Big Mothers not Big Brother? Women changing Rio

July 29, 2009

The Guardian today has an interesting report on how women are getting to more senior positions in the police in Rio de Janeiro and changing the way policing is done as a result. I reported on my own observation of this back in April, an whilst there are many bright young female officers who want to do things differently, the top echelons of Brazilian policing are still a long way from being feminized and these young guns may not ever get much higher up to where policy is made. There’s also suspicions that such officers are being used largely for their PR value and to defend the police against being just another macho gang.

Of course, there’s more going on than just in the police. A whole generation of men lost to the drugs war has left women in more influential positions within community organisations in the favelas of Rio – we met several during our research. Considering the lack of effective state surveillance and the relative increase in power and local knowledge of these women both in community associations and the police in Brazil, I jokingly referred to them as ‘not so much Big Brother as Big Mothers’…

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