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Story Publication logo February 4, 2022

Latin America's Dungeons of Shame


Waiting to go inside, a line of women stand in a yard enclosed by a wall that is topped with barbed wire. The women wear the same all-white uniform of a t-shirt, shorts, and crocs, and they all wear masks. Two women are holding small children. On the right of the frame is a stroller.

The deplorable conditions of imprisoned women in El Salvador has remained largely neglected...

Women in cell
Women inside the La Yaguara detention center in Caracas spend their days in inactivity. They adapt their space of the “dungeon” to make it look more like a home. They write letters or make drawings for their children, read the Bible, share cigarettes, or iron their hair. Image by Ana Maria Arevalo. Venezuela, 2018.

The following is an excerpt translated from French. To read the original report in Polka Magazine, click here.

Yusbelis B., 23, accused of robbery, has a scar on her face after a fight with another incarcerated woman at the Yaguara Detention Center. She is four months pregnant, but in seven weeks of incarceration, she has not benefited from any medical examination. Image by Ana Maria Arevalo. Venezuela, 2018. 

Patricia Guadalupe Macia (center), 50, is serving a 102-year prison sentence at the Women's Rehabilitation Center in Ilopango for extortion and homicide. The area where she is incarcerated is home to 228 active female gang members. Like her, the incarcerated women around her are part of Barrio 18. Image by Ana Maria Arevalo. El Salvador, 2021.

In 2017, photographer Ana Maria Arevalo Gosen began to document the lives of women in pre-trial detention centers in her country of Venezuela. A daily life made of deprivation, violence, humiliations. She understood little by little that the condition of incarcerated women is a problem at the scale of the whole region. So in 2021, Arevalo Gosen continued her work in El Salvador and she plans to pursue it throughout Latin America. For this project, titled Dias Eternos, she won the Lucas Dolega Award in 2020 and, in 2021, the Camille Lepage Award and the Leica Oskar Barnack Award.

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