Lifestyle Health and Wellbeing 13 Nov 2019 Meet Ana Claudia Roc ...

Meet Ana Claudia Rocha Ferreira: Dental work changed her life

AFP
Published Nov 13, 2019, 3:35 pm IST
Updated Nov 13, 2019, 3:35 pm IST
In Brazil, dentists give battered women a new life.
Rocha is one of millions of women who are victimised by their partners in Brazil. (Photo: AFP)
 Rocha is one of millions of women who are victimised by their partners in Brazil. (Photo: AFP)

Brazil: Ana Claudia Rocha Ferreira suffered domestic abuse at the hands of multiple partners, dating back to when she was just 15 years old. The violence took a mental and physical toll. "I only had four teeth left in the front. I was ashamed to go out," she explains.

Rocha is one of the millions of women who are victimised by their partners in Brazil. In nearly all of the cases, men target the women's faces and teeth, to diminish their femininity and feelings of self-worth. Rocha was one of the lucky ones.

 

She got new confidence -- and a new smile -- thanks to Rio de Janeiro dentist Armando Piva, who is part of a non-governmental network of volunteers rebuilding the teeth, and the lives, of battered women.

Rocha says the dental work was like a "dream" and changed her life. But before her brilliant white grin -- emphasised by bright red lipstick -- was restored, Rocha went through some grim times. "The assaults began when I was just 15 years old, and I was pregnant with my first daughter," explains the young black woman, who works at a graphic design firm -- and already has four grandchildren at age 39.

"He started punching me. I left him. But afterwards, the father of my second daughter also started hitting me. My teeth fell out one after another," she recalls. Rocha, who lives in a slum in Rio's vast Sao Cristovao area, says that in the favelas, "men say they like to beat up their woman so no one else wants her. They leave their mark on her face."

She didn't leave her second abusive partner because she didn't have the money to do so. She also couldn't go home to her mother, who kicked her out at a young age. Her mom's history was similar -- she was beaten all of her life and did not have one tooth left, Rocha recounts.

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