The impact of drug control on women: Exacerbating violence and human rights abuses


The impact of drug control on women: Exacerbating violence and human rights abuses

7 November 2016

Punitive drug policies have not only failed to reduce the scale of the illicit drug trade, they have also resulted in an exacerbation of the violence, stigma, discrimination, poverty and marginalisation faced by women. Today, women are the fastest growing prison population in the world, and this increase is mainly driven by repressive drug policies. In some Latin American countries, 60 to 80% of the female prison population is incarcerated for low-level, non-violent drug-related offences. Most women in prison are from poor households, many are single mothers responsible for several children and other dependents.

The UNGASS on drugs, held in April 2016, has been critical to reframe drug control debates away from repression and towards a human rights and development-oriented approach. The UNGASS was also an opportunity to incorporate a gender component in UN drug policies.

This event will highlight the harms faced by women involved in the illicit drug market, especially in relation to violence, incarceration and human rights abuses. Panellists will also highlight some possible mechanisms for UN human rights bodies, in particular CEDAW, to engage in global drug control debates in the post-UNGASS period. The event will end with a description of how these steps can be implemented both at global and national level with the experience of Costa Rica.

The event will take place at the Palais des Nations, Geneva (Room XXVII).

Moderator: Cristina González, Permanent Mission of Uruguay to the United Nations

Maria del Pilar Saborío de Rocafort, Costa Rican Ambassador in Vienna

Paulo de Tarso Lugon Arantes, Geneva Representative CELS, Conectas, Humanas

Marie Nougier, International Drug Policy Consortium

Luciana Pol, CELS, Argentina

International Drug Policy Consortium, the Washington Office on Latin America, Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales, Corporacion Humanas Chile, Conectas, co-sponsored by the governments of Colombia, Costa Rica and Uruguay

If you wish to attend, please email Juan Fernandez (

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

Thumbnail: WOLA