Tuesday, 26 November 2013

'Prisons' and 'Children' - would you put these two words together?

I've been procrastinating a lot recently between essay writing and attempting to start exam revision! I've been looking further into the concept and the reality of prison children in Bolivia, considering this is the main reason I am heading off to South America in a few weeks. It's pretty interesting/shocking stuff and I thought I'd share it in a short blog with you. 

These prisons are not at all like British prisons. There are no guards, uniforms or metal bars on the cell windows. Inmates have to pay for their cells and will usually work inside the jail in order to do so, by spending their days selling groceries, hairdressing or shoe-shining, for example. 

"I can't afford to buy it, so I rent it for 80 bolivianos
 ($10; £6) a month."

Children suffer discrimination outside the jail, and face sexual abuse within. Usually, there is nowhere else for them to go and they have no other family members with the financial means to take care of them. Some are born in the cells and do not know any other way of life other than their prison life. Check out this BBC Photo Journal: inside a Bolivian jail article to find out more and to read short quotes from prison inmates. 

I'm going to be going to a central region of Cochabamba where, according to another article, living conditions are no better. Children often witness violence and prostitution in the cells. According to the Bolivian authorities, the number of children living in prisons has increased since the 1980's, when the government took a tougher line against drug-trafficking. This article on Bolivia's prison children reveals more. 

The Palmasola prison holds entire families

When I go to Bolivia, I will be working in a day care center outside of a jail where prison children attend each day. The children range from 0-16 years old. I hope to speak in depth with some of the older children and to try and understand their viewpoints, feelings and opinions, and to attempt to grasp a small part of this reality of Bolivian life. We all know it's not as simple as always trusting media sources, so I'll continue to report back to you through my blog with my own research! 

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