The OHCHR Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice launched a call for contributions for their upcoming report on ‘Women deprived of liberty’. This joint contribution by IDPC, WOLA, CELS, Dejusticia and Equis focuses on the disproportionate impacts of overly punitive drug policies on women in Latin America. This paper provides the latest available data on women incarcerated for drug offenses in Latin America, highlights the key human rights challenges they face in the criminal justice system, and offers policy recommendations.
The Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) and the Andean Information Network (AIN) have published a new report, Promoting Gender-Sensitive Drug Policies in Bolivia. Almost 40 percent of the women behind bars in Bolivia are held for low-level drug offenses, often as a result of structural socioeconomic conditions, such as poverty and the pressures of single parenting. The report concludes with a series of concrete reforms that are needed to significantly advance the implementation of gender-sensitive drug policies in Bolivia.
This submission was prepared by WOLA, EQUIS: Justicia para las Mujeres (Mexico), IDPC and Dejusticia (Colombia) on behalf of a working group on women, drug policy and incarceration in Latin America, led by the organizations listed above and in collaboration with the OAS Inter-American Commission on Women.
One of the largest obstacles to formulating an effective policy that is consistent with a gender perspective and human rights is the lack of information and knowledge of women’s participation in drug-related activities and their situation once behind bars. The weaknesses in the production and reliability of public data and access to such data are not unique to Latin America, but in the case of women in prison for drug offenses, we face a series of additional restrictions.
This list compiles additional resources on the topic of women, drug policy, and incarceration.
Recognition of the enormous human and other costs of punitive policies, and of their meager benefits, makes urgent the task of implementing alternatives to incarceration with a sensitivity to gender considerations, from which women who have committed drug offenses in the region can benefit significantly. This document offers, initially, a series of general recommendations for implementing alternatives to incarceration in the countries of the region.