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Women and the drug trade

You can thank the "War on Drugs" and the drug trade in general for the fact that prisons worldwide are starting to overflow with women inmates.

According to studies, the female population of prisoners in the United States increased 757 percent between 1977 and 2004 -- which is about twice the rate of growth in the male prison population. Many believe that is directly tied to the emerging role of women in the drug trade.

This isn't just happening to American women, however. It's something that other countries are experiencing as well. In some cases, the women themselves are active and willing participants in the drug trafficking business. They may use the fact that females are perceived as less likely to be drug dealers than males as an advantage to fly under the radar of authorities.

Many of those women involved in drug trafficking, however, serve as drug "mules" for larger organizations. They enter the business of smuggling drugs through national borders out of desperation, often by hiding the drugs inside their own bodies in a dangerous fashion. Some are trying to feed themselves -- while others are trying to provide for their entire families. Some are merely doing the bidding of their husbands or boyfriends because they really have no other choice. Many are the victims of gang violence and domestic abuse -- or suffering from extreme poverty. Others are simply addicts who are willing to do anything in order to obtain enough money for their next fix.

The mass incarceration of women for minor roles in drug trafficking is counterproductive when it makes far more sense to treat their addictions or provide assistance to get them out of their situation -- but the law doesn't see it that way. If you're a woman who has been arrested in connection with drug trafficking, you're in a vulnerable position. Make sure that you have experienced legal advice for your situation.

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