Young Roma people in Serbia are particularly severely affected by the increase in use of traditional psychoactive substances, such as cannabis, inhalants (glue and solvents), heroin and alcohol. EDPI’s local partner, the NGO 'Re Generation', argues that these young people - a high proportion of whom live and work on the streets - are in need of special care.

A Roma girl, legally invisible, who may be a drug user/injecting drug user, a sex worker, a mother, HCV- and/or HIV-positive, isn't just on the margins of society - she's completely excluded from it. She bears the burden of stigma and discrimination, not only from the general population, but even from the Roma community. The culturally-embedded power imbalance exposes Roma girls to an increased risk of stigma, violence, and abuse - and in turn, these increase the likelihood that she will engage in behaviours which increase her vulnerability to HIV and other sexually-acquired conditions.

There is an essential need for gender-sensitive programs targeting the general population of young women, as well as Roma girls. The core activity of those programs should be outreach work with mobile teams. Experience of outreach work in Roma settlements confirms that education brings results - education about risk and risk-prevention filters through, across barriers of gender or age. 

Click here to read the full article. 

Keep up-to-date with drug policy developments by subscribing to the IDPC Monthly Alert.