By Claudia Stoicescu and Marija Pantelic / IDPC
Women who inject drugs experience the impacts of drug use and dependence differently than men. They are at higher risk of HIV and other infections, face higher mortality rates, and experience inadequate access to HIV prevention and treatment. Women’s health and access to care are shaped and constrained by criminalising laws and policies, with the police playing a key role in the practical enforcement of these laws.
The “Women Speak Out” research study, conducted in 2015 through a collaboration between Oxford University and Indonesian Drug User Network researchers, used community-based participatory approaches and peer-driven methods to explore the impacts of police enforcement practices on the physical and mental health of women who inject drugs in Indonesia.
This briefing paper presents a new analysis from this study to describe the public health impact of the so-called ‘war on drugs’, a set of punitive law enforcement strategies that define the dominant approach to drugs around the world.
The paper aims to inform advocacy efforts toward improving the quality of life and expanding healthcare access for women who use drugs. It examines how police enforcement activities impact the physical and mental health of women who inject drugs in Indonesia and offers a set of policy recommendations for an evidence-informed and gender-sensitive response to drug use and HIV.