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Guatemala's 'war on drugs' has quintupled the number of incarcerated women

Dr Gloriana Rodriguez Alvarez discusses the gendered consequences of drug trafficking across Central America in the latest WORLD: we got this podcast.

Guatemala prison

As transnational drug trafficking across Central America has increased, Guatemala has seen a rise in crime, leading to stricter policing, military involvement in civilian issues and harsher sentences.

This in turn has led to a rise in the mass incarceration of women across the country. Whilst most countries in the region have the seen the incarceration of women double or triple in recent years, Guatemala’s female prison population has increased by 500%.

In this episode of WORLD: we got this podcast, Dr Rodriguez Alvarez speaks to David Mwambari, Lecturer in African Security and Leadership Studies at King’s African Leadership Centre, about her research into the impact the country’s insecurity has had on its people.

We have to question, what type of states we’re building? What type of institutions we’re strengthening and in the case of Guatemala, for example, these are very exclusionary institutions. In fact, the entire criminal justice system, really what it does is magnify the pre-existing social prejudices and the underlying social injustices.” – Dr Gloriana Rodriguez Alvarez

As a result of the state’s power struggle with emerging social actors, like cartels and gangs, there has been an increase in repressive policies – which have directly magnified pre-existing injustices against the country’s marginal poor women.

Whilst completing her PhD, Dr Rodriguez Alvarez visited prisons across Guatemala to interview inmates. On the podcast, she shares her experience of visiting prisons, as well as sharing her insights on the importance of being an empathetic researcher.

Listen to the full podcast episode and catch up on the rest of WORLD: we got this season three on your preferred podcast player.

In this story

David Mwambari

David Mwambari

Lecturer in African Security and Leadership Studies