Corina Giacomello (2020)‘The Gendered Impacts of Drug Policy on Women: Case Studies from Mexico’, in Julia Buxton, Mary Chinery-Hesse and Khalid Tinasti (eds.) Drug Policies and Development, Confict and Coexistence, International Development Policy series No.12 (Geneva, Boston: Graduate Institute Publications, Brill-Nijhoff).
This paper looks at women involved in drug offenses and women who use drugs, from the perspective of the intersection of three axes: i) gender relationships and gender systems, ii) development, and iii) drug policy. Its purpose is to analyse the impacts of drug policy on women from a gender perspective, with a focus on two groups of ‘women in detention’: incarcerated women and women in residential treatment centres. The paper argues that current drug policies are part and parcel of patriarchal structures that underlie violence against women and children and undermine gender equality and development.
The international framework of drug control generates, through prohibition, illicit drug markets and drug trafficking organisations. Theseorganisations mirror hegemonic gender systems and treat women and children as disposable objects, maintaining sexist structures that lead to the exploitation of women’s labour by their male partners, patriarchal relations with regard to illicit waged labour, and patriarchal violence and culture. The other direct results of the implementation of international drug policy are the use of incarceration as a means of deterrence and the growing number of women in prison for drug offenses.
Also in the case of women who use drugs, current drug policies contribute, with practical and discursive elements, to the reproduction and justification of violence against women and girls. The two groups of women in detention analysed in this chapter, instead of being accompanied by communities, families, and state institutions that address and attempt to repair the suffering and the crimes committed against them, are further isolated through institutionalisation in legal or illegal sites, in which violence against women is further reproduced and development is hindered.
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