Desperate measures

As economic crisis in Venezuela deepens, women resort to selling their hair

People line up to withdraw cash from an automated teller machine (ATM) outside a Banco de Venezuela branch in Caracas, Venezuela, December 5, 2016. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino

Hundreds of Venezuelan women flood into Colombia every day, hoping to sell their hair so they can buy basic necessities.

According to a report by Reuters, the trend has spiked in recent weeks due to the deepening economic crisis in Venezuela. Rapid declines in global oil prices have been a tremendous blow to the oil-rich country, and rates of inflation are ballooning. Millions of citizens cannot afford food and medication.

By cutting and selling their hair, women can earn enough money to buy food and other necessities, like diapers. They head to a bridge that connects Venezuela to a Colombian border town, where middlemen known as “draggers” cut hair and sell it to companies that make extensions.

Some women regret the decision, complaining that the cuts are sloppy. But in times of desperation, there is little else they can do to stave off destitution.

Cecilia Gonzales, a 45-year-old street vendor, earned some $20 from her brown locks. “I suffer arthritis and I need to buy medicine,” she told Reuters. This won’t be much, but at least I can buy painkillers.”

Read the full story at The Guardian.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story misattributed the report to The Guardian when it is in fact a report by Reuters.

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