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This chapter presents a broad introduction to women’s varied interactions with drugs and drug markets. It provides a brief overview of the international framework of drug…
This chapter presents a broad introduction to women’s varied interactions with drugs and drug markets. It provides a brief overview of the international framework of drug control and the ways in which drug policy enforcement differently impacts women and men. It highlights the negative and disproportionate impacts on women of criminalisation-based approaches and how drug policy serves to reinforce existing problems of structural discrimination. This provides context for the contributions to this edited collection, which are summarised in the introduction. The book situates drug policy reform as a crucial and underlooked feminist issue.
The Russian Federation has taken a harsh, punitive approach towards drug policy. There are limited health and social services available to people who use drugs and…
The Russian Federation has taken a harsh, punitive approach towards drug policy. There are limited health and social services available to people who use drugs and widespread, documented discrimination within the criminal justice system. Amongst those who use drugs, the proportion of women who use injection drugs is estimated to be approximately 30 per cent. While a minority, women who use drugs are often disproportionately impacted by drug policy enforcement and remain underrepresented within research. Moreover, women who use drugs experience specific gender-based forms of discrimination within social, health and criminal justice systems, which result in particular vulnerabilities. This chapter examines policing and sentencing practices within the Russian criminal justice system and their gendered impacts, especially concerning women who use drugs. Human rights reports and court cases as well as interviews from civil society organisation (CSO) workers are analysed in order to understand how gender roles, gender-based discrimination and gender-based violence shape these interactions and result in disproportionate negative impacts on the lives of women who use drugs. This analysis also highlights key areas that need greater involvement and attention from researchers, policymakers and advocates.
Critical drug studies have developed a significant body of work that illuminates understanding of gender and drug use as well as drug pleasures. However, framing the study…
Critical drug studies have developed a significant body of work that illuminates understanding of gender and drug use as well as drug pleasures. However, framing the study of women and their drug pleasures through critical drug studies presents potential limitations. The posthuman turn de-emphasises the primary goal of drug use: a particular subjective experience. Both the language and theoretical frameworks of new materialism potentially distance researchers, as interlocutors, from engaging the human experience of drug pleasures, rendering drug use abstract and unknowable.
In a historical context in which women’s intoxication has invoked shaming and criminalisation, control of their bodies, and silencing of dissent, scholarly activism by and inclusion of women who use drugs should be foundational to critical drug studies. Autoethnography offers a modality by which personal narrative becomes a convention of academic writing. It also presents a way of performing the self critically and authentically within conceptual frameworks that explore the complex, intersectional politics of women’s drug use, ways that are representationally missing in the scholarship. An ethics of care as part of one’s practice of the self proposes a radically different way of framing drug use. The recognition and normalisation of drug pleasures as the complicated, emergent, expressions of ethical self-care that they are for women (and all people who use drugs) promises fertile ground for future scholarly exploration. Research based in the lived experience of women who use drugs will help establish languages that resituate drug use in the phenomenology of their experience.
Sex and gender are regarded as critical structural determinants of mental health and mental illness. Mental illness is a complex phenomenon, and risky behaviour and substance use commonly occur simultaneously or subsequent to one another. A gendered vulnerability in biological, environmental, and behavioural risk factors has been registered in the development and escalation of mental illness. Studies have found that women who use drugs experience greater physical and mental health repercussions than men. Women who use drugs present higher rates of depression and anxiety, suicidal tendencies, isolation and general psychological distress. This chapter addresses the most common mental illnesses associated with women who use drugs: depression, anxiety, trauma-related disorders, and eating disorders.
This chapter explores sex work and compares legal regimes in two case study contexts of Scotland and New Zealand. It highlights parallels in policy norms and approaches…
This chapter explores sex work and compares legal regimes in two case study contexts of Scotland and New Zealand. It highlights parallels in policy norms and approaches towards women in sex work and women who use drugs, including stigmatisation and punishment of ‘deviant’ women or alternatively, approaches that seek to ‘rescue’ women and which frames them as victims. Different policy approaches and regulatory regimes are discussed but the chapter argues that without attention to social justice issues, the structural drivers of women’s engagement in sex work will continue to be overlooked. Participation in policy processes by those with lived experience is emphasised, both to ensure better understanding of sex work by policymakers, and also in recognition of the citizenship, voice and agency of sex workers.
Over the past decade, an increase in the numbers of women prosecuted, sentenced and imprisoned for drug-related offences has prompted concern and debate amongst criminal…
Over the past decade, an increase in the numbers of women prosecuted, sentenced and imprisoned for drug-related offences has prompted concern and debate amongst criminal justice practitioners and policymakers. The female prison population in Southeast Asian countries is high compared to other regions. The direction of national drug policies and law enforcement are critical determinants of this situation. This chapter discusses the trends in the illicit drug market, the different types of policy responses, and the impacts on correctional services in the region. It provides an overview of women prisoners’ profiles, their backgrounds and their involvement in drug-related crimes. Key issues relating to the treatment of women in Southeast Asian prisons are analysed and addressed through the lens of the relevant provisions of the United Nations Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-custodial Measures for Women Offenders.
This case study examines unique overdose risks and prevention strategies for women who have used heroin during pregnancy in New York City. The overdose crisis has resulted…
This case study examines unique overdose risks and prevention strategies for women who have used heroin during pregnancy in New York City. The overdose crisis has resulted in increased efforts to implement drug user health services; yet, pregnant and parenting women who use drugs continue to be left behind. Three women who currently use heroin and had experienced at least one pregnancy during their heroin use history were interviewed using semi-structured qualitative interviews. Their experiences documented in this case study illustrate several gender-specific considerations when responding to the overdose crisis in New York City. Overwhelmingly, barriers to healthcare and overdose prevention were correlated with perceived stigma and the fear of or actual loss of child custody. Compassionate, gender-responsive interventions remain largely absent in policy and practice, especially for pregnant women. The shared experiences highlighted in this case study should be used to develop improved drug user health policies and practices as well as increase overall advocacy efforts for women of reproductive age who use drugs.