Report: Women who use drugs around the world: Key issues, violations, and recommendations

This report, developed by University of Miami School of Law Human Rights Clinic, The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network and Eurasian Harm Reduction Association, outlines key issues and rights violations relevant to the experiences of women who use drugs, as well as recommendations to protect the human rights of women who use drugs.

The impact of drug use has a disproportionate effect on women who use drugs around the world. The stigma and discrimination associated with drug use conflicts with society’s notion of a woman as mother and caretaker. Forgotten by society, they are susceptible to violence from both the police and intimate partners and especially vulnerable to contracting HIV. There is an overall lack of access to services that can help women address addiction and overcome gender-based violence. Moreover, women who use drugs are unfairly persecuted by the criminal justice system in comparison to their male counterparts. This violates their innate human right to equality and non-discrimination, health, family, and freedom from violence. This is a critical international human rights issue that can no longer be ignored.

Key issues examined in the report:

  • Discrimination against Women Who Use Drugs
  • Gender-basedViolence
  • Lack of Access to Essential Health Services

Human Rights Violations of Women who use Drugs under analysis:

  • Right to Equality and Non-Discrimination
  • Right to Health
  • Right to Family
  • Right to be Free from Gender-based Violence

Women who use drugs face many unique challenges in receiving not only adequate healthcare, but in fair and equal treatment by society. However, it is not too late for countries to step up and change their law, policies, and programs. The document summarizes the recommendations, drawn from Concluding Observations and General Recommendations from the CEDAW Committee and, reports from the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), NGOs, and experts can guide countries in the right direction.

The report is available in English.