By Harm Reduction International and the South African Network of People who Use Drugs
This report investigates the experiences of women who use drugs with access to harm reduction and health services in Durban, South Africa. In order to compile these experiences, a series of focus groups with women who use drugs in the city were convened by researchers from the South African Network of People who Use Drugs and Harm Reduction International. The participants were invited to share their experiences of harm reduction services and those factors that can prevent them from accessing them. Those conversations highlighted a population who are routinely oppressed, criminalised and dehumanised. Despite a clear desire to achieve good health and practice harm reduction, these women were continually blocked from doing so by a law enforcement ecosystem that sees them as undeserving of even basic respect and dignity. We heard how law enforcement officers would prevent women from accessing justice and harm reduction services, and how they would enact harm on them directly through physical, sexual and psychological abuse.