Women and drug policy
Women-led demonstration as part of the Support. Don't Punish campaign. Supported by WHRIN.
Women, both cis and trans, bear the negative consequences of drug policies in ways that are often neither seen nor heard. IDPC amplifies the voices of women, including through collaboration with feminist organisations, by advocating for reforms that address the gender inequalities perpetuated by drug policies.
Women who use drugs are far more likely to experience violence from their partners, community and state actors such as the police, due to criminalisation, discrimination and stigmatisation.They live with higher rates of mortality, HIV and AIDS, social exclusion, stigma and discrimination, as well as poorer access to justice and health services.
Globally, the proportion of women incarcerated for drug offences (35%) is significantly higher than that of men (19%), with the highest percentages to be found in Latin America and South East Asia. Many of them have low levels of education, live in poverty, and are the primary caregivers of dependents such as children, the elderly, and the disabled.
The many concerns faced by women held in detention or prison include drug dependence and mental health problems, vulnerability to sexual abuse, reproductive healthcare needs, and being separated from their dependents and other loved ones. It is also more difficult for women with a history of incarceration for drug offences to find employment, housing and financial support when they return to their communities, due to the high level of stigma attached to involvement in the illicit drug trade or any drug-related activity.
Despite the rising numbers of women incarcerated for drug offences worldwide, their characteristics and specific needs have largely been unrecognised and ignored by decision makers in the implementation of drug laws and within the criminal justice system.
IDPC amplifies the voices of women, including through collaboration with feminist organisations, by advocating for reforms that address the gender inequalities perpetuated by drug policies.