The systematic abuse of India’s female opiate users
Women who use drugs are at increased risk from HIV and violence, but as they don’t explicitly feature in official national data, their needs largely go unmet.17 Dec 2018
Despite India having the largest number of heroin users in Asia according to the UN, the number of women that make up these figures is unknown. The lack of a gender breakdown, along with India’s prevailing gender stereotypes, allows for a presumption that smoking or injecting chitta, brown sugar, or number four, is largely a male pursuit.
Women who use drugs are more likely to experience violence than those who do not - two to three times more likely. HIV prevalence among people who inject drugs is 6.3% according to HIV sentinel surveillance data of National AIDS Control organisation 2016-2017, compared to the overall national rate of 0.2% for adults, and the risk of HIV increases further for women when both drug use and violence are present. In the country assessed to be the most dangerous place to be a woman, and where 63 million women and girls are ‘missing’, drug use is compounding the normative risks.
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