Women And Drug Policies: An International Perspective

Main Article Content

Rifat Khan, Dr. Ajaymeet Singh


Women, almost half of the population of the world, make up one third of the drug users[i] and one fifth of those estimated numbers of people who inject drugs globally.[ii] The prohibitory and punitive policies and laws as a response to the world drug issues pose a heavy burden on the women who use drugs, making them vulnerable and their empowerment critical. Paul Hunt[iii], has described “the coexistence of human rights law and drug control laws as being situated in parallel universes”.[iv] In other words, the application of drug control laws breaches and conflicts the standards and norms set by human rights laws. Though there are evidences reporting the negative un-intended consequences of penal drug laws and policies on health, development and human rights[v], but less attention has been paid on particular impact of drug control on women, their rights and gender equality.[vi]


[i] World Drug Report 2018, UNODC, Key Findings, page 6.

[ii] ibid

[iii] Former UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights to the Highest Attainable Standards of Physical And Mental Health.

[iv] Hunt Paul, Human Rights, Health and Harm Reduction – States’ Amnesia and Parallel Universes, International Harm Reduction Association, London, 2008.

[v]Report by the Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime as a Contribution to the Review of the Twentieth Special Session of the General Assembly (2008), Making Drug Control ‘fit for purpose’: Building on the UNGASS Decade (E/CN.7/2008/CRP.17), http://www.unodc.org/documents/commissions/CND-Session51/CND-UNGASS-CRPs/ECN72008CRP17.pdf )1

[vi] Only 2% of all resolutions adopted since 2009 address the issues faced by women who use drugs. See Nougier M, Taking Stock, a Decade of Drug Policy , A Civil Society Shadow Report, International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC), http://fileserver.idpc.net/library/shadow_Report_FINAL_ENGLISH.pdf

Article Details