Women and drugs, stories of need beyond crime in Bolivia

Women and drugs, stories of need beyond crime in Bolivia

The need leads to paths that often border on the illegal, but at a certain moment they become the only alternative to get ahead, a reality of many Bolivian women who are in jail for drug trafficking.

Behind every woman who voluntarily or involuntarily decided to sell drugs, who is now designated as a criminal, there is a reason that the Accion Semilla Foundation compiled into five Bolivian stories in a book titled "History of Birds and Cages".

This book has the purpose of knowing the story of life, the more human side of women who became a black figure and who are inmates in the female prison of Obrajes in La Paz or who left from their bars, told Efe the director of that foundation, Patricia Chulver.

"The stories have been compiled by us and reinterpreted by writers and artists," explained the director of that foundation that conducts research on drugs in the country.

The photographs that accompany each story are the winners of a contest that the same foundation made so that in an image the readers can imagine what life is like for a woman deprived of freedom.

"Women who like captive birds once knew the breeze of the wind when flapping their wings", indicates the introduction of the book.

The first story tells the story of a 39-year-old woman known as "la muda", who worked cleaning a hotel and was in charge of a child.

"The receptionist asked her to take a parcel to another hotel to earn a few pesos, because he could not go, she said, she accepted, and with the money she was going to be able to buy the baby a cough syrup," the story says.

"The sergeant took the wallet out of his hand and went in search of the order, opened the package and there was the dry plant (marijuana), he went with the baby to the police station and from the ombudsman they told him it was better not to talk ", continues the narration.

"Soledad, solitudes" tells the story of a young woman who from prison tells how she had entered the world of illicit trafficking.

"I was very young when a man came and gave me merchandise, he told me that with that I could help my mom, at first I said no, then mom fell into bed, I did not have to eat, my brothers were smaller, I could not do nothing, "he says in the story.

Another story is about a 25-year-old girl who was detained for at least nine months for carrying 38 grams of marijuana for consumption.

"She was falling in tears, while the policewoman was telling her with an unforgettable gesture of joy: so to put drugs you are very brave, now you will rot in jail," reads the text.

"There is no passage through prison that does not involve winning friends, meeting other women in more adverse conditions, but more courageous, knowing the faith and support, understanding the damage that many have done to us and learning from resilience," he concludes.

Chulver said that most of the women who are imprisoned for drug trafficking in the country are people who live in "extreme vulnerability", because in many cases they are the support of their families, they can not find work or even have someone who is sick.

"Definitely being a woman, being poor and being linked to drugs ends up being a determining factor to be considered a criminal," he said.

Last October, the case of a Bolivian mother imprisoned in Argentina for trying to smuggle drugs to pay for cancer treatment for her son shocked Bolivia.

The woman obtained her release for humanitarian reasons and managed to reunite with her son before the boy died.

For the director, this is a case that exposes the reality of many women in the country who are behind bars, as prisons are filled with the weakest links of the great chain that leads to the "big shot" of drug trafficking.

All of these women were tried under Bolivian law 1008, which penalizes the trafficking of controlled substances with imprisonment from ten to twenty-five years, according to Chulver.

One of the final considerations of the text is that justice take into account the socio-economic conditions of each person and work to have "a more humane criminal system."


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