Policy Briefs

Trans Women Deprived of Liberty: Invisible Stories Behind Bars

Drawing on a participatory research process led by formerly incarcerated trans women, the study is the result of a collaboration between nine human rights and advocacy organizations: Almas Cautivas, Casa de las Muñecas Tiresias, Casa Hogar Paola Buenrostro, the Corpora en Libertad Network, Dejusticia, Equis: Justice for Women, the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC), the Prison Ombudsman’s National Office in Argentina, and the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA). The report describes the failures of Latin American governments to implement basic measures to protect trans women deprived of liberty from violence and abuse. As a result, trans women are subjected to discrimination, stigmatization, and criminalization at every stage of interaction with the criminal justice system.

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Women Coca and Poppy Growers Mobilizing for Social Change

WOLA, AIN, IDPC, and Dejusticia published a new policy brief, Women Coca and Poppy Growers Mobilizing Women for Social Change. The so-called “war on drugs” and the marginalization of rural life have erected walls behind which the role of women as agents of social transformation is hidden and rendered invisible. Given the silence and dearth of information regarding the role of women in community life in areas where crops declared illicit are grown, this report explores who these women growers are, their socioeconomic contexts, their involvement in the production of crops destined for illicit markets, their organizing experiences, and their participation in decisionmaking processes—taking into account case studies from Bolivia and Colombia. Furthermore, the report presents recommendations focused on ensuring the participation of women growers in political and public life at all levels of decision-making.

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Pretrial Detention in Latin America: The Disproportionate Impact on Women Deprived of Liberty for Drug Offenses

WOLA, IDPC, and Dejusticia have published a new policy brief, Pretrial Detention in Latin America: The Disproportionate Impact on Women Deprived of Liberty for Drug Offenses. One out of three people awaiting trial in the Americas are held behind bars and over the last two decades, the number of pretrial detainees in the region has grown by around 60%. In some countries, women are more likely to be held as pretrial detainees than men, disproportionately impacting these women and their families. This policy brief provides the most recent data on the use of pretrial detention, looks specifically at its impact on women, and concludes with a series of recommendations to significantly reduce the number of women in pretrial detention in Latin America.

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Promoting Gender-Sensitive Drug Policies in Bolivia

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.

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Generating and Collecting Data on Women Incarcerated for Drug Offenses

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.

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Alternatives to Incarceration for Women Involved in the Drug Market

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.

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