The author shares her insights on her 12 years long-work with indigenous women in prison: the racism that exists in prisons, the concealment of ethnic profiles during jail censuses, and the prisons’ violence and function as an instrument of dispossession.
The criminal procedure confronted by Reina Meraz, a Bolivian immigrant woman, exposes a double issue of the Argentinian judicial system: the need to train judicial officers in both gender perspective and interculturalism.
Moreover, indigenous women represent 34% of the total number of inmates. As if this wasn’t enough, the legal and welfare systems are removing indigenous children from their families and culture, serving as a mechanism of forced assimilation.
Racism and patriarchy present profound challenges within the Guatemalan prison system. The penal system is a reflection of the discrimination experienced by indigenous women all over: for being women, indigenous and poor.
Rachel Mariano and Betty Belén, indigenous women and human rights advocates share their incarceration stories due to trumped-up charges and evidence. The cause of their persecution is clear: they defend their ancestral lands.
Official statistics obscure the fact that the majority of the prison population is of indigenous and African origin and had been affected by racism, deprivation, massive waves of displacement to cities and oblivion.