In prison, Cambodian babies grow in squalid conditions as war on drugs rages

Since the Cambodian government started a war on drugs in 2017, the number of prisoners has considerably increased. Among them are pregnant women who have no choice but to give birth and raise their babies behind bars.

Chanlina was seven months pregnant when she was jailed. For nearly ten months, the mother-to-be was held without trial, for an alleged drug-related offence, at the Correctional Centre 2 (CC2) of Prey Sar, Cambodia’s largest and most notorious prison.

Chanlina, whose real name has been changed to protect her identity, was placed in an overcrowded cell shared by 20 female inmates. She ate twice a day – breakfast at 9 am and dinner at 2 pm – mostly rice and soup. There was no fan. The air was hot and stuffy.

“We lay tightly together when we slept and I would only have enough food when my mother-in-law came to visit,” said Chanlina, now 29.

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