The story of the Campaign in 2019 to document an experience, understand mistakes and share the finding, which can help the Narcofeminism movement to come back to the public space better equipped and able to stand the blow.
Drug policy and feminist movements have rarely been connected – but they should be.
Author: Olga Belyaeva, Advocacy Manager, EHRA
In 2019, February more than 40 womxn from Europe and Central Asia met in Barcelona to work together on intersectional feminism, drug policy, harm reduction and human rights, where the Barcelona Declaration was initiated. If you/ your organization would like to support the Declaration, please complete the form below.
The Barcelona Declaration
On International Women’s Day 2019, we declare that the War On Drugs is a war on Womxn Who Use Drugs
The War On Drugs is racist, sexist, classist and heterosexist, and disproportionately affects womxn of colour, youth and womxn in poor communities.
As womxn, trans and gender non-conforming people surviving this war, we reject the widespread stigma, discrimination and criminalisation we face in our daily lives. We call for complete reform and transformation of the current system of prohibition. We call for an end to the ignorant and negative rhetoric.
Drug treatment services are gendered, classed, sexualised and racialised. Drug ‘treatment’ itself is based on spurious and outdated research, and allows unbridled and unregulated power over the individual. We reject these methods and the ideologies underpinning them.
Global and systemic oppressions violate our rights, as womxn, trans and gender non-conforming people who use drugs, and situate us in multiple, interconnected, vulnerable positions, which lead to numerous harms:
- As womxn who inject drugs, we have a higher prevalence of HIV and Hepatitis than men. Despite this, we don’t appear in data and endure discrimination and exclusion from social and health services. The few resources we have tend to be masculinised and inaccessible as well as often not meeting our needs, interests or expectations.
- We are disproportionately impacted by structural violence and social control from the State (policing, limited access to legal aid, extortion, long prison sentences, rape, extrajudicial murder and capital punishment).
- The majority of womxn in prison are sentenced for non-violent drug related offences. Womxn of colour, ethnic minorities, non-binary or trans, and the homeless are particularly targeted. In several countries, we face detention in compulsory, unregulated ‘treatment” centres , often for indefinite periods with little or no access to judicial processes. Incarceration in closed settings creates a context for increased human rights violations, such as rape and extortion.
- We often experience endemic violence and exclusion within our own communities and families. Not only are we more likely to be assaulted by our partners, but we are less likely to have recourse to justice and protection
- We suffer intrusion into our bodily and physical integrity, maternal and family life and domestic space. We face routine violations of our sexual and reproductive health rights, by both community and state such as coerced sterilization and pregnancy termination.
- Stigma that assumes womxn who use drugs cannot take care of their children and misinformation on the effects of drug use feeds into strong pressures to end pregnancy. When we don’t terminate our pregnancies, there’s a strong possibility we will lose custody of our children.
- Those of us who are sex workers, and especially trans womxn and womxn living with disabilities cope with an unacceptable and compounded web of stigma, discrimination and social exclusion.
Despite living with these and other multiple forms of violence daily, Womxn Fighting back Against the War On Drugs are resourceful, enterprising, creative and strong. We possess remarkable resilience. We fight back against prohibition with solidarity, mutual support and leadership, building our networks from the grassroots to the global, from immediate action to long-term strategies to end this war on womxn who use drugs. We embrace intersectional and anti-prohibitionist feminism that integrated queer/trans-inclusive and non-ableist approaches, racial justice and the right to use drugs and experience pleasure. We work to reclaim our bodily sovereignty, including rights to the full range of sexual and reproductive health, gender-sensitive health services, and rights to use drugs. We do not ask for charity but for solidarity. We demand to live in safety and freedom.
This declaration is an invitation to join forces with womxn like us, womxn who demand an end to the War on Drugs and the negative impact it has on all our lives.
“Let us all cause some trouble and begin to change the world with and for women who use drugs with our powerful conceptual armaments in hand.” Elizabeth Ettorre
Our bodies – our choice, our rights, our voice.
The following groups / organisations support this declaration:
1. Eurasian Harm Reduction Association (EHRA)
2. Women and Harm Reduction International Network (WHRIN)
4. Metzineres. Environments of Shelter for Womxn who Use Drugs Surviving Violences
5. XADUD. Network of Womxn who Use Drugs
6. REMA. Network of Anti-Prohibitionist Women
7. ARSU – Grup de Dones
8. FAAAT think & do tank
9. Pla d’accions sobre drogues de Reus
10. European Institute for Multidisciplinary Studies on Human Rights and Science | Knowmad Institut
11. Iglesia Evangélica Protestante de El Salvador (IEPES)
12. Youth RISE
13. Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID)
14. International Network of Women who use Drugs (INWUD)
16. Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy
17. Género y Drogodependencias (Madrid)
18. Perempuan Pengguna NAPZA Indonesia dan Deklarasi Jenggala
19. Agência Piaget para o Desenvolvimento – APDES
20. CASO Portugal
21. European Network of People Who Use Drugs – EuroNPUD
22. NGO Re Generation
23. Youth Organisation For Drug Action
27. Life Quality Improvement Organisation FLIGHT
28. AFEW International
29. Društvo AREAL
30. “Harmreduction network” association.
31. CA PRIMA
32. En Plenas Facultades
33. Delhi Drug User Forum
34. Association Margina
35. ARAS – Romanian Association Against AIDS
36. AKUT Foundation, Hungary
37. ALE “Kazakhs Union of People Living with HIV”
38. Eurasian Women’s Network on AIDS
41. Kosmicare Association
42. COUNTERfit Harm Reduction Program (Canada)
43. Jane Lane
46. Toronto Overdose Prevention Society
47. Help Not Harm
50. Frontline AIDS
51. GAKNI – Gerakan Advokasi Kebijakan Napza Indonesia (Indonesia Drug Policy Advocacy
53. Nepal for Public Health
54. Indonesia Drug Policy Reform
55. GO “All- Ukrainian network of Ukrainiane Users”
56. Global Inklusi Perlindungan AIDS
57. Confederación de federaciones cánnabicas (ConFAC)
58. New Taskon padang
59. Federación de asociaciones Cannàbicas de Cataluña (CatFAC)
60. Italian Network of People Who Use Drugs – ItaNPUD
61. Perempuan Bersuara
62. Gerakan Advokasi Kebijakan NAPZA Indonesia (GAKNI) / Indonesia Drugs Policy Advocacy
63. Forum Akar Rumput Indonesia (FARI) / Grass-Roots Indonesian Forum
64. Aksi Keadilan Indonesia (AKI) / Indonesian Justice Action
65. Persaudaraan Korban NAPZA Bogor (PKN Bogor) / Bogor Drug User Community
66. Drugs Policy Reform (DRP) Banten, Indonesia
67. Forum Droghe (IT)
70. Salamander Trust
71. Stop Overdose Now
72. CF “VIRTUS”
73. Real People Real Vision
74. Asia Catalyst
75. Romanian Harm Reduction Network
78. LGBT organization Labrys
79. Club “Svitanok”, Ukraine
82. Rights Reporter Foundation
83. Komunitas perempuan pengguna napza Pekanbaru (comunity women who use drugs Pekanbaru)
85. EATG (European AIDS Treatment Group)
86. PREKURSOR Foundation for Social Policy
87. Harm Reduction International
88. STOP AIDS, ALBANIA
90. Kosmicare Association
91. Sexism Free Night
92. Sex Worker Advocacy and Resistance Movement (SWARM)
93. Andrey Rylkov Foundation
95. Drug Policy Network South East Europe
96. NORML France
97. Women in Europe and Central Asian Regions plus (WECARe+)
99. Canadian Drug Policy Coalition
101. Legalize Belarus
103. India HIV/AIDS Alliance
104. Estonian Association of People who Use psychotropic substances „Lunest“
107. Women Who Use Drugs Malaysia
108. Polish Drug Policy Network
109. Indigo Harm Reduction Services
110. NGO Volunteer ( Tajikistan GBAO)
111. CATNPUD. Catalan Network of People who Use Drugs
112. NGO “RIGHT OF EVERYONE”
113. New Generation Humanitarian NGO / Armenia (NGNGO)
114. Občianske združenie Prima
115. I am Kogan Julia, the leader of the community of people living with drug addiction in the city of Odessa.
116. NGO “April Project”
117. ICEERS Foundation
118. Eurasian Network of People who Use Drugs
119. Asian Harm Reduction Network Myanmar
To add your organisation’s name to the signatories or to keep in touch – please complete this form.
The meeting “Development of Cooperation and Solidarity between Feminist Movements and Women Working in Drug Policy in Eastern Europe and Central Asia” was held in Berlin from 9 to 11 of May. During the meeting, participants from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine, Estonia, Russia and Germany, together with AWID and Deutsche AIDS-Hilfe, discussed opportunities of cooperation and how repressive drug policies affect the lives of women and their relatives. We were inspired by new ideas and we hope to implement them this year! #inonebreath #womenanddrugpolicy #feminism#AWID #EHRA
Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, the Estonian organization LUNEST and the Eurasian Harm Reduction Association (EHRA) submitted a report regarding the situation with the enjoyment of social rights among women who use drugs and/or living with HIV in Estonia to the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR). The report was compiled based on a number of human rights violations in Estonia, identified during a research study conducted by a team of non-governmental organizations in 2017.
The aim of this submission is to request the Estonian Government to address the issues of health, parental, child protection and labor rights violations incurred by women who use drugs.
An opportunity to voice concerns
Established in 1985, CESCR is a UN human rights body consisting of 18 independent experts that monitor implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights by its States parties, which are obliged to submit regular reports to the Committee on how the rights are being implemented in their countries. The Committee’s rules allow for international, regional, and national organisations and human rights institutions to submit parallel reports with questions for governments in advance of the dialogue with the states.
“The submission of such reports is a unique opportunity for non-governmental organisations to directly participate in the monitoring of human rights violations in their countries and bring these violations to the attention of UN bodies. We hope that based on our report on women who use drugs in Estonia, CESCR will include these issues into the list of questions for the Estonian Government,” Mikhail Golichenko of Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network explains the importance of the submission. “If we succeed and our concerns are included, the Estonian State representatives will be expected to submit replies and explanations to them. Thus, the voices of people who use drugs will be heard and, hopefully, the violations of their rights will be addressed and solved.”
Pre-sessional Working Group Session, during which CESCR will present the Estonian Government with the list of questions will take place in Geneva, on 3-6 April this year. The final report from Estonia will be presented to the Committee at a later stage.
Despite rather good overall human rights record in Estonia, people who use drugs still experience discrimination and stigmatisation from a number of state institutions, such as the police, child protection, and public health services. According to the European Drug Report 2017, Estonia has the highest number of mortalities from overdose in Europe (103 deaths per million) and one of the highest number of HIV prevalece attributed to injecting drug use (41.9 cases per million).
“The report to the CESCR means that Estonia, which has shown good progress in terms of providing access to HIV prevention and treatment, if compared to its neighbouring states, still has a long way to go to eliminate systematic violations of human rights against its most vulnerable population groups. What we have learned during our research of women who use drugs last year was unexpected and shocking. The recorded numbers of the misuse of power, arbitrary detentions and deprivation of parental rights is a worrying sign that even such countries as Estonia, which has been long considered as one of the most-developed post-Soviet countries, violate the rights of people who use drugs” Dasha Matyushina-Ocheret, Policy Reform Advisor at EHRA states the reasons behind the report. “We truly hope, that through an open dialogue and cooperation with local and international non-governmental ogranisations, the Estonian authorities will ensure that the rights of vulnerable groups, such as women who use drugs, are respected and protected.”
Draft briefing paper, which served as a basis for the parallel report to CESCR, was conducted in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, and Northeastern Ida-Virumaa county, were 38 in-depth interviews with women who use drugs were taken and later analysed. Apart from violations of parental rights, non-protection against gender-based violence, labor, health and child rights violations, the study has also found that the respondents lack access to legal and social support services, there are insufficient gender-sensitive services for women who use drugs, including quality opioid substitution treatment and rehabilitation. The study was conducted by Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, the Eurasian Harm Reduction Association and the Estonian organisation LUNEST.