Fairy-Tale Night for Girls in Rio Slum

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The 15-year-old girls were escorted to the ball held in a Copacabana dancehall Friday night by members of the Pacifying Police Unit from their community. The police units have re-conquered slums ruled for decades by drug-dealing gangs. The girls were coiffed and made up by volunteers, and their dresses were loaned by a formal wear shop. Debutante balls, which mark a girl’s transition from childhood to adulthood, have been a custom among upper-middle-class and wealthy Brazilian families, but are usually out of reach for girls growing up in Rio’s slums.

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