Home » Side event: Drug Trafficking through gender lenses: Women’s involvement and impact on their lives

Side event: Drug Trafficking through gender lenses: Women’s involvement and impact on their lives

Angela Me, UNODC: What we want to discuss with you today is to see whether this neutral approach is still valid. There are differences between women and men and particularly if women had certain roles in drug trafficking in general. So we have a panel that we have divided into two; one to present some research findings so to just to say the facts and figures that we have and they can tell us how much gender is an important aspect to consider in drug supply reduction. And then we will also have, after presentation of the facts and facts and figures, we will have actually a response from the policy side. So from the evidence that we have, what should we do to have a less gender neutral when we think about responses. So with me, I have also Natalie Pauwels from the European Union. She’s the Head of Unit, Stability and Peace on the Global and Transnational Threats Service for Foreign Policy Instruments and she will give us also some opening remarks. And Natalie I just also wanted to thank you for your office support. The research methods allow us today to speak and to launch a new publication that actually speaks about the role of women in the cocaine, trafficking, cocaine supply, and so I’m really particularly grateful for the support to make this possible.

Nathalie Pauwels, European Commission: So distinguished participants, ladies and gentlemen. On behalf of the European Union, I’m honoured actually to be here to inaugurate this side event to the Commission on Narcotic Drugs and I want to thank the organisers UNODC for organising the event and especially for drafting a very insightful Cocaine Insights report on women in the cocaine supply chain, which is of course the focus of this session today.

This report is one of the outputs of the EU funded Criminal Justice Project, which is implemented by UNODC together with Interpol. Crimjust is designed to support third countries in South America, the Caribbean and West Africa to investigate, prosecute and confiscate the profits of illicit trafficking including narcotics along the so called cocaine route. Crimjust is one of several projects that together make up the EU’s global illicit flows programme. Because we know that organised crime and illicit flows are increasingly global and transnational in nature so an effective response really needs to promote and facilitate increased international cooperation between law enforcement authorities, both within but also between regions. And our global illicit flows programme is responding to this need with projects that are seeking to disrupt illicit flows focusing on land, air and sea routes, for example, but also promoting international cooperation along the interdiction investigation and prosecution chain. Now, today’s event combines two priorities for the European Union. first addressing illicit trafficking and secondly, promoting gender equality through our external action.

Drug trafficking, unfortunately, remains a serious problem for the European Union. And of course, it’s one of the top priorities for the fight against serious and organised crime for the period 2022 to 2025. According to the latest EU threat assessment in recent years, the level of violence within the EU connected with drug trafficking has increased and in particular the amount of cocaine being trafficked into the EU has grown substantially. The first issue in this series of cocaine insights paper has also shown a convergence of drug markets between the Americas and Europe. And at the same time, the EU has committed to promoting gender equality and its external action as part of its strategic approach to women, peace and security. And particularly in regard to security related issues. So it’s really crucial for us to better understand how organised crime in general and drugs trafficking in particular may impact men and women differently, and also the implications of this for policy design and implementation. Like men, women feel various roles in the drug trade as drug users traffickers, but also as police, customs or judicial officers on the frontline of efforts to disrupt drug trafficking, and finally, of course as victims of drug trafficking and organised crime. So women continue to be underrepresented at the same time in law enforcement roles, particularly at senior levels. And this is not only bad news for gender equality, it’s also bad news for law enforcement capacity. And to give just one reason why this is bad news – we have mounting research showing that female officers are less likely to be corrupted than their male counterparts. So promoting gender equality in law enforcement should be as much a part and a key element of anti-corruption strategies. As drug users, women face specific barriers to treatment, including domestic violence, trauma and stigma, physical and mental health issues, but also pregnancy and childcare issues. And the EU drug strategy stresses that service delivery should be tailored to the specific needs of women and should recognise that patterns of drug use and problems may differ from those experienced by men. And this same recommendation is made in the latest World Drug Report. Of course, women are also involved in the illegal traffic of drugs. As this report shows, women’s roles in this regard vary enormously, while women are more represented at lower levels of the drug play trade, they play key roles in certain areas such as growing coca, or as drug mules, particularly bringing drugs into prisons. Finally, women like men are often the victims of organised crime. According to UNODC global homicide study between 2000 and 2017, organised crime was responsible for around 1 million violent deaths that killed more people than all conflicts and terrorism combined in this period, and a majority of those killed, particularly in Latin America were young men. Women also face unacceptably high risks of exploitation, extortion, violence and murder connected in large part to the illegal drug trade. So as this report shows, the complexity of women’s roles in organised crime cannot be reduced to simple categories of victims and victimizers. To understand and formulate effective responses to the drug trade, it’s important to recognise the social drivers behind this phenomenon, and also to focus on the individuals involved not only as actors within an illicit market, but also as women and men with their own circumstances, identities and characteristics. Too often, the specificities affecting women get lost in the big picture and that’s why it’s critical to improve the evidence base on women’s roles in the drug trade, and to build the gender dimension into our responses. And one recommendation of this report is the need for judicial sentencing guidelines that take into account individual circumstances and seek to reduce harm and rehabilitate offenders. For these reasons, I welcome this report on women’s involvement in drug trafficking and its impact on their lives and I hope its insights contribute to developing sensitive, effective and balanced responses at both EU and also global level and that these will serve to lessen the suffering that the illegal drug trade causes. So once again, I’d like to reiterate the EU support to the Crimjust project and to thank UNODC for organising today’s session. Thank you very much.

Angela Me, UNODC: This is our occasion to present the new report on the cocaine supply chain. We just wanted to show you the cover. This is the third of a series of briefings that we are starting in the monitoring campaign. Now we have Yulia Vorobyeva who is the main researcher of the publication.

Yulia Vorobyeva, UNODC:  Hello, everyone. And thank you for your interest in this important topic. The objective of this study was to dig deeper in the dynamics of female participation in the cocaine supply chain and to overcome the lack of data on the topic. We looked at different roles that women perform in the cocaine economy, and the reasons that pushed them towards these activity, the conditions that they work and what impact involvement has on their lives. Finally, we looked at how the experiences differ from those of men. We based our research on primary and secondary data analysis and on expert interviews conducted with academic researchers, members of civil society and criminal justice professionals. In countries alongside major Cocaine growth, in particular in Latin America. Now I will present some findings of the study.

While both men and women participate in most of the cocaine related activities, women represent a significant share of those involved and they perform a wide range of tasks like men or women can perform work in coca fields and cocaine production sites. The most common activities include taking care of cooking plants, preparing food for workers. Or harvesting coca leaves. Some evidence shows that women can play a prominent role in coca leaf economy. For example, in parts of Bolivia, coca leaf merchants are almost exclusively female. Some of them have relatively high financial needs and occupy a mid-level position in production. In international trafficking, women usually participant is drug mules but can also carry out managerial activities such as establishing contacts with international suppliers and coordinating logistics or laundering drug profits and recording financial transactions or criminal group. At the national level, women sell drugs to consumers, smuggle cocaine into prisons or act in supporting roles, such as storing the drugs for a company and male dealers to avoid police attention. At each stage, roles can vary from supporting to managerial, but the vast majority occupied low level and easily replaceable positions. Some roles are more specific to women than men. Overall gender matters in choosing a method of concealment or adopting a specific behaviour. For example, smuggling of drugs into prison is carried out almost exclusively by women as they have an additional hiding spot or to avoid police attention, some women adopt traditional female behaviours such as driving in a company of children, or they can conceal drugs in toys, diapers or presents. According to some studies, cocaine seems to be the most common drug smuggled by the so called body packers, who typically swallow drug filled packets, which of course poses high, high risks to health. In the 1970s, when the first case of body packing was recorded by predominantly young men. With the tightening of airport security, however, women became more involved, as they’re believed to raise less suspicion for law enforcement. Nowadays, they’re just as involved as men in smuggling cocaine inside their bodies. But this pattern may vary across regions. Moreover, older women, older people in general, pregnant women and children have been also recorded to smuggle drugs by this means.

In terms of the International cocaine smuggling in general, we don’t know for sure if more women than men smuggle cocaine globally. The available data include only apprehensions and don’t reflect the number of smugglers who managed to cross the border without being detained. Still the data on foreign nationals incarcerated for drug trafficking in countries along the cocaine route can give an idea about the relative numbers of cocaine smugglers. When we compare the numbers of foreign prisoners in one jurisdiction of one nationality across different jurisdictions, we can see that in some cases, potential drug mules coming from specific countries belong to one gender. For example, in 2019, almost all Nigerian prisoners in Argentina and Brazil were men, while all incarcerated Thai nationals in Brazil or Peru were women, which suggests that some countries appear to be the origin of predominantly male drug mules, while others are predominantly female drug mules.

And how do women decide to become involve involved in drug related activities? Only a minority of women are actually coerced or deceived into cocaine smuggling. However, women’s decisions to become involved are often shaped by their responses to socio economic conditions in Latin America and the Caribbean region. For example, women face significant hurdles in labour market, where they are less likely than men to participate, more likely to work without lower pay, and on average work more hours than men. Those who have no ability to advance economically are sometimes pushed into the cocaine trade by the perceived lack of alternatives. And initial involvement in international smuggling of cocaine is often voluntary. Women typically know what they’re smuggling but this decision quickly becomes irreversible. Once a woman agrees to smuggle drugs, she’s typically not allowed to detract. In addition, most women are involved in the low level of the supply chain without fully realising the potential risks such as a high probability of arrest, harsh penalties, all health risks in the case of drugs or worse. And reasons for female involvement in cocaine trafficking vary across roles. Typical enabling factors include being the primary caretaker for the family, like in financial resources, and having suffered from failed relationships in the past. These factors often present among women in greater degree than among men. Besides economic needs, there are other factors that may drive female participation in some roles more than in others. Women who smuggle cocaine into prison, for example, are often led into it by male inmate with whom they have romantic or familial ties. For females, street level drug dealers, extreme poverty, and the need to provide for the family is often the main push factor to sell drugs. Conversely, among cross borders migrant smugglers, one can find women from a higher socio-economic background to begin with to travel internationally, you need an internal document. Evidence from some countries also points out that women detained for international drug trafficking may have higher levels of education compared to women detained for national level drug offences. And some women in leadership positions are likely to pursue the criminal career for the sake of achieving a sense of power and autonomy for men. Of course, these are not clear cut correlations and these factors are just part of more complex scenario, but still some orders may be observed that can lead to specific policy making implications.

So, in conclusion, working conditions of women compared to men remains an open question. Generally, there seems to be no difference between males and females in the income earned by coca growers and drug mules. However, data and more research is needed to better understand it and few women are treated differently from men by drug trafficking organisations. The involvement in the cocaine supply chain creates a mixed impact on women. For those involved in administration, income from the illicit activities may provide some short term benefits, but these benefits don’t translate into sustainable livelihoods. Similarly, most of the women who engage in small scale trafficking or cocaine retail, remain for enrollment in the cocaine economy also leads to their great exposure to violent environment, threats and stigmatisation. It can also lead to incarceration, which has a particular impact on women and their families, especially in the case of foreign nationals who suffer the effects of being incarcerated away from home and also often encounter additional challenges in the trial stages. So a comprehensive strategy of drug supply reduction needs to take into account all sets of factors that lead women from different backgrounds to become actors in the cocaine supply chain, incorporating the gender dimension in everything we do, applies in particular to the response to drug problem and therefore, to research which is meant to improve our understanding of this phenomenon. That is why we did this work and we think we need to continue to deepen our understanding of this issue. Thank you.

Angela Me, UNODC: Thank you, Julia. And you can all find the report on our website. So and I hope that you will find it interesting. It is just the tip of the iceberg of extremely interesting results. So now we take another perspective from Thailand. We have Chontit Chuenurah, the Director of the Office of the Bangkok rules and treatment of offenders service from the Thailand Institute of Justice.

Chontit Chuenurah, Thailand Institute of Justice: My presentation today focuses around woman’s pathway to international cross border drug trafficking. And this is based from Thailand justice in collaboration with Griffith university’s research back in 2017. So, in this study, what we try to look at is the overall context of Southeast Asia where, during the past few decades, the illicit drug supply and trafficking has been one of the most persistent problems in the region. The punitive criminal justice policy has led to women being locked up in prison for a very long period of time and being disproportionately impacted by the criminal justice policy.

So in the context of Thailand, from 2010 to 2013, there were more than 320 people that are arrested and incarcerated in another country for drug trafficking and of that number, more than 70% were women. So with that circumstances, in this study, we wish to understand the reason that there was women involved or engaged in criminal activities. So we focus on Thai women who are incarcerated in Cambodia. At that time of our research, there was 17 Thai women locked up in Cambodia prison for drug trafficking. In this study, we managed to interview 10 of them. So we use the in depth interview and a narrative method to construct life maps of the 10 women that we studied. And then we also use the open-ended questions covering several topics around their life and their pathway including a childhood life, adult life, including a friendship, victimizations and other problems experience, their education, employment, economy, circumstances, the history of offending as well as the experience during the criminal in the criminal justice system. We found was that all the 10 women that we spoke to were aged between 24 to 47 and convicted of drug trafficking, either methamphetamine or ice, or cocaine. The drug which was from 700 grams to 13 grams. So, the women were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 25 years to life imprisonment. At that time, according to the Cambodian law, a person who traffic more than 80 grams of heroin or cocaine can face imprisonment from 20 years to life in prison and a fine from approximately $10,000 to $24,000. So all the 10 women that we interview, nine of the 10 had experienced unstable childhood, such as financial problem, parental separation, and eight of them have children. Nine women have no experience or no problem with the drug use, even though three said that they have tried drugs at least one time. All the women had experienced problems in their intimate partnerships such as domestic violence, and none of the woman has previous criminal conviction. So when we interview women, we also asked them about how they engage in criminal activities. And the story kind of become a pattern repeat itself. So what we find is that one of the key features that’s most women has in common was their romantic association with a foreign man, either through an online or offline platform, and this is often the beginning of their journey to the criminal justice. Most women were being romanced and groomed as drugs mules by men for a short time or a certain period of time, some woman actually marry foreign guy and most women experience manipulations by their intimate partner who take advantage of their trust and then relationships and involved women in the criminal activities. There was a point in my relationship where women’s were asked for invited to travel abroad, and for most women, it was their first time to leave Thailand. So a lot of women said that their passport and their visa and all the arrangement was done by their male partner. Most women tend to travel to countries like Brazil, in Vietnam and Africa. Arriving in that country, they were given a small amount of money and on the way they’re supposed to leave the country that needs to receive drugs, knowingly or unknowingly in forms of luggage. It could be an empty luggage where the drug was hidden. So this is how women are receiving drugs and eventually being arrested. Some women were arrested on the same day on the same flight and can be a decoy for drug trafficking. And then if the woman that we talked to were a big time drug trafficker with connection to organised criminal network. There are questions around whether these women are victims or when they’re doing it on their free view. Of the 10 women that we spoke to that have different life experience and level of understanding. You know, they come from different backgrounds some were shopkeeper, restaurant owner and you have also a student from the University. So there were a number of common factors that contributed. Most of the women were the primary caretaker of their family, was struggling to meet their family financial needs. Many women experienced multiple disappointment in the intimate relationship and have a very low self-esteem. In most cases, women were asked to travel overseas by a foreign man. So it is highly possible that they were a target, but anyway, it would not be right to say that all the winners are victim without any agency as you can see in front of the statement that we have taken from two out of 10 women. But we should recognise agency is on a spectrum, with women capable of exercising the constraint choice across various adverse situations. Some women has to make constrained choice within the context of love to traffic drugs to financially support themselves or their family. So in our analysis, we managed to capture that key pathway that leads them into prison. As you can see on the screen, the most common pathway is where women become romantically linked to criminal or deviant partner who took advantage of that we also find women who come from a pathway of trying to get away from domestic violence or women’s who have a criminal genic pathway or self indulgence who mainly did it because to finance themselves or just for money, the impact that women face in the criminal justice system starting from the point of where they met the police. Many women experienced difficulty during the criminal justice system including misguidance police practices, alongside a lack of competent legal representations in court, at the level of policies, have the women’s were unaware of what was the document that they were endorsing. We have also women who express difficulties in the living in the prison abroad, challenges in terms of language or access to programmes and services. One of the challenging area some woman’s experience serious mental health and suicide attempt. One woman that I spoke to mentioned that she has tried to take her own life twice in prison, but she felt and she expressed no hope and nothing to look forward to She blamed her economy and insecurity on her condition. So this is one of the research that we have also done a similar research comparing male and female drug traffickers but in the context of Thai person. So from based on both research we tend to prove that women’s and men’s experience and engaging in drug trafficking differs in terms of their relationship to poverty, family, caretaking responsibilities, intimate relationship, victimization and trauma, most of the women’s in the research world propelling into prison for drug trafficking because they needed to economically support their family. Or because the worrying reality is that punitive mandatory minimums in most countries in the regions also applied to all drug trafficker regardless of their culpabilities, mitigating circumstances or the collateral damage caused to offenders and their family. This could be one of the things that policymakers should look into. So in a way for words, we hope that there will be a more gender responsive policy in the region that take into account a woman’s journey into offending in addition to the crime that that woman committed. Thank you.

Angela Me, UNODC: Thank you, Charlie. And then so we move to the next phase. I think we have heard from both researchers and how actually women experience differently and particularly the issue of being engaged in trafficking or engage in different activities related to drug supply. That is also due to a family to you know this responsibility of caring for the family, or also relative as a choice we’re saying there and the relationship they engage with. So how can we address this? And so now we have the policy perspective, the first Miguel Serrano from the UNODC office in Colombia on the illicit Crop Monitoring Programme.

Miguel Serrano, UNODC: Let me talk about the dimension of how this affects women which has to do with them. More or less 35% of women that have been sent to prison because of drug trafficking. So the question arises is would it be better to act before or during their period of incarceration or after? So what we thought about based on the research that took place in the Colombian case, based on the information I shall provide, is that it makes sense to act beforehand because the social environment is adverse for a large number of women that are incarcerated because of these crimes in the Colombian case 76% were facing poverty circumstances 68% nearly had completed secondary school and 54% of women have become mothers before reaching 18 years of age and only 80% of women in our case participated in criminal activities based on their own decision heads in this sense, a crucial action has to do with the prevention of the crime. First of all, for this purpose, we have to include the age dimension because of course we’ve seen substantial differences with regards to the participation based on the agent on crimes related to drugs and secondly, the social environment so we make sense to focus on the territory concerning the prevention of the crime. So that we should include certain items which are generated greater susceptibility on women, for example, the prevention of pregnancy during teenage years and of course, their relationship with these networks, which surely are the companions or friends that are pushing them to participate in these illegal actions. So it’s also important to act when they’re in prison. Now one of the main agents of course, are women. Data in the Colombian cases the following only 13% know the Bangkok rule, 26% of women were big, recidivist because of other crimes and crimes are concentrated in lower strata. In other words, where there are higher levels of poverty, we registered high consumption of drugs in the prisons and 57% of women that were incarcerated because of these crimes, said that they had not received any visits whatsoever. So, what are the priority actions concerning public policies have to do first of all, is to for women to have greater knowledge of the rights when in prison and secondly, to strengthen the penitentiary programmes concerning social reintegration so that thereafter they might have to maybe after having been incarcerated to avoid recidivism and avoid prevention of active drugs in prison, which is a complex issue and to activate family links and support organisations, which will help them face these issues. And the studies that we have carried out show that not only the effects of incarceration and women are seen them personally but also in their homes. Let me give you certain data 95% of homes of women that have been incarcerated receive less than than $500 and will basically for members in that household, 25% of the children suffer depression and anxiety after women have been incarcerated, 20% have suffered from drop out at school, so 39% showed low academic yield and only 2% minors participated in these public programmes. Hence it’s important to say that with regard to actions, we have to support the families that were that that have been incarcerated they have to be enrolled in social programmes and secondly, they need psychosocial support for custodians. And finally, it also makes sense to act there because there’s a powerful stigmatisation issue with rejection. For those that have been incarcerated because crimes concerning economic and labour opportunities at the establishment of social networks. Therefore, we believe that it’s important to have programmes concerning job opportunities for those women that have been incarcerated. And the correction in economic opportunities for example, women that have been incarcerated have certain limitations for opening bank accounts and this includes that they have access to jobs and finally, follow up for women that have been allowed to leave prison to avoid recidivism in women. Thank you very much.

Sven Pfeiffer, UNODC: I would like to take us back to the global level and talk a little bit about international standards and recommendations and implementation tools that we have published. I’m not going to repeat what previous speakers have said just to mention that also the global level receive at a higher proportion of women than men and prison for drug related offences. We see that women arrested for drug offences have different profiles and relationship with different studies with situations of manipulation, coercion, but more that poverty is limited choices that are not taken into account really when it comes to dealing with women in conflict with the law for drug offences in the criminal justice system, and the important hardships and additional needs that women face when they’re incarcerated, and again spoken about that as well in depth.

So I would like to recall that international standards and norms encourage approaches to address the specific needs and issues faced by women involved in drug related offences, while also ensuring that detention and imprisonment remains a measure of last resort. And here it’s important to note that the international drug control conventions do allow space to use alternatives to conviction or punishment, not only for personal consumption offences but also for trafficking offences in appropriate cases of a minor nature. And not only for people with drug use disorders, but also for other people, like the women that we’ve seen in committing drug offences who are not necessarily facing dependence themselves. And one aspect in addition to the important work in after prison is to ensure that women are actually treated at the beginning of the stage in an appropriate way and are kept out of prison as much as possible. And international standards like the Tokyo rules and the Bangkok rules provide detailed guidance on this at different stages, the pretrial stage, most importantly, but also at sentencing stage, and not just post sentencing stage and the different actors to involve in this. It’s clear that not just judges and prison officials play an important role but also the police and prosecution services need to be involved. And I want to recall the provisions of the Bangkok rules which are not just about treating women inside of prison but also contain guidance on what to do outside or instead of prison. And they call for prioritising noncustodial measures for women. They asked states to consider women’s backgrounds and circumstances at all stages, including pretrial sentencing as well as provide gender sensitive substance abuse treatment programmes, that should be trauma informed where they’re needed. And one of the implementation tools that could be used and it’s linked to many of the findings that we’ve heard from other speakers today is our new toolkit on gender responsive measures, which we developed together with our colleagues from the thailand Institute of Justice, and that includes a specific section on women arrested for drug related offences.

And among the recommendations, I would like to outline the following. The first set concerns the fundamental issue of criminal policy considering whether and how much criminal law is needed to address drug related conduct that has caused so many women to be incarcerated. And there we recommend to avoid criminalising refuse to consider and decriminalising or depenalising personal consumption offences in line with national conventions, and as was mentioned by other speakers to avoid seeking or establishing in law mandatory minimum sentences based on charges, especially for drug possession offences. A second set of recommendations aimed at increasing the use of non-custodial measures and making them sensitive to the needs of women who are arrested for drug offences. And here non-custodial sentences should be preferred, especially if women are pregnant or have dependent children. Another recommendation is, as mentioned, trauma informed drug treatment programmes and women’s access to those programmes and finally, to avoid having compulsory rehabilitation in detention. And another important recommendation is to remove any legal or practical barriers to non-custodial measures that might exist and one of those obviously concerns the sentencing frameworks, and reviewing those to make sure that it’s proportionate and really responsive to the different aspects that we’ve heard today. So, the recommendation is to have sentencing frameworks that not just consider the type of drugs or the amount of drugs involved, but also this game of illicit activity, the role and the motivation of women involved. Any drug dependency, they may have other health issues, as well as the consideration of social factors like poverty, caretaking obligations, and the limited choices that women involved in drug trafficking are facing they also wanted to mention that this is not just a policy paper, but really a tool also for capacity building and includes case studies of real women for discussion and use in training exercises. And finally, just to mention another related to to the point that Miguel said what to do after or instead of imprisonment. The updated Handbook of UNODC on the prevention of recidivism and social reintegration, which also has a specific chapter on women and on people with drug use disorders. So I hope this will be useful as you move forward to address the policy implications of these different research findings.

Angela Me, UNODC: Thank you. So I think is interesting to see many stories that we have heard that research is emerging. Actually, they shouldn’t be there. Women should not be in prison, should not be suffering. The convention is to distinguish the big drug traffickers, that definitely needs criminalization is punishment from the ones that are just the victim. We have really very few minutes left so I would like to ask all the you know, the only everyone but no more than one minute each to comment I think from the chat there is an interesting maybe to hear more about expanding the scope of research outside, for example of cocaine, looking at opioids. Do you have any comments on the experience that you want to share, but also in different regions? All our global research on prison of people in prison shows that the number of people in prison is increasing globally. The number of women is increasing faster than men. So clearly, this issue of addressing specific needs of women is becoming more and more important.

Yulia Vorobyeva, UNODC: These questions need to be addressed and the problem is always the data segregation. What we see in the research it’s very hard to understand for which drugs people are incarcerated, for example, came into contact with the law enforcement and it’s called desegregation by drug, but also desegregation by gender. So if this data become more valuable, there will be much more opportunities to conduct research.

Angela Me, UNODC: Thank you. So we need to invest on the data in prison and in all the criminal justice system to make it more gender sensitive, and more drug sensitive.

Chontit Chuenurah, Thailand Institute of Justice: I just want to echo the importance of research. For the TIJ we have done research and only in Southeast Asia, but we will be really happy to work further with organisations in different fields, different regions. I think also the important thing is that the research that how can we also decided to use gender sensitive in the way we conduct our research and the way that we are just trying to do is to move the research a little bit on the pathway theory that we look at the women’s life not just at the circumstances where they are arrested, but to go back into the actual root cause why women are engaging in this kind of criminal activity. So we’ll be really happy to continue this discussion and I look for opportunity to work with you.

Angela Me, UNODC: Thank you. I don’t know if others want to just jump in.

Nathalie Pauwels, European Commission: I simply wanted to save it from our side from the European Commission side under our global programme, we are doing work in the sense that we are sponsoring research, such as the piece that we’re here to discuss today and have done others in the past and practice that we are of course interested in seeing how we can use that research in order to influence what we do through projects. Working on the ground in order to really sort of make a difference. So in that sense, we’re always sort of keeping our eyes and ears open for new avenues to explore, but also drawing from all kinds of expertise. So all kinds of data and information available. We know that the situation I mean this is an area especially around organised crime that is constantly in flux, and we need to stay on top of things and in that sense, very important to bring research coming from different angles together and see how we can apply them in the field.

Angela Me, UNODC: Thank you. You’re bringing an interesting point and that is not just research for the sake of research, but really research that can feed action and be on the talks are timely indeed we all know those when we do research and know how they change much faster than probably our capacity to understand those changes.

Miguel Serrano, UNODC: The findings are extremely interesting and something that we found, and it would be worthwhile to deepen on site is research concerning the participation of women in the production of illegal crops of course, including Mexico up to Bolivia including as well the production of poppy seeds, as well as cocaine and marijuana. We’ve found interesting and important changes how women participate and their levels of involvement and the gaps that are seen regarding men and women concerning these different activities, of course.

Sven Pfeiffer, UNODC: I can just echo what others have said also, from our perspective, working with criminal justice practitioners to address these issues. It’s really important not just to have the Quantitative Data from statistics how many men and women are arrested for which kind of offence but also what drug, the quality of the data about why and what the specific cases are to have the case studies I mentioned and really reflect on why we should apply noncustodial measures in specific cases. So both of it is really important also for training and for legal and policy development that we are supporting.

Mathew: Thank you very much for this very interesting presentation. Really appreciated all of the different pieces of research. Look forward to reading them online. The main takeaway for me was really the stress of the need for alternatives to custodial sentences. And I think that’s something very important for us to integrate into some of our projects, dealing with prosecution and investigation, particularly for lower level actors where the line between victims and active participants is maybe not so clear.

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