FEMALE DRUG USERS
place to live in a housing centre for women and a job, the money from which she entrusted to her friend for safekeeping out of fear that she may be tempted to use it to buy coca paste again. Her main concern now was raising her son and planning for his future, and she told us that coming to the treatment service had allowed her to regain control of her life.
Unfortunately, unlike AnaPaula, many drug-dependent women do not have the opportunity to access treatment and shelter, or are prevented from doing so. All over the world, drugdependent women are ostracised from their communities and left without support. Although women and girls account for one-third of global drug users, only one in five drug treatment recipients is female. Women who take drugs are often stigmatised and discriminated. For this reason, the International Narcotic Control Board’s Annual Report for 2016 emphasises the need for drug policies and programmes that take women into account.
For drug policies to be truly effective, we have to consider the distinct situations of men and women. Governments need to take the specific needs of drugdependent women into account to ensure their rights and those of their families are protected. Unfortunately, many drug-related policies and programmes worldwide still fall short in this regard.
Our report shows that female prisoners and sex workers are at particularly high risk of drug use.
If we look at the past 15 years, we see a major increase in the number of women arrested for drug-related offences and, once imprisoned, female prisoners are much more likely to become drug users than men. When women are imprisoned, family life is often greatly disrupted.
There is a strong link between sex work and drug use. Women may turn to sex work to support a drug-dependent lifestyle, while sex workers may use drugs to cope with the demands and nature of their work. Sex workers in many parts of the world are prevented from accessing treatment due to stigma, judgmental attitudes as
Not forgetting the captain of the ship, Eric Ong, who would have needed to believe the story and endure challenges to make this film because this was clearly not made with the aim of breaking box office records, but rather connect to hearts and put across a message. Hats off to the team. If this is a sample of your output, then more great things will come.
Finally, to the audience and cinema fans, this is unlike other well as the discomfort felt by the women themselves in predominantly male-attended treatment centres. Drug-dependent women with children may also be reluctant to access treatment out of fear that they will be seen as unfit mothers and that their children will be taken from them.
One-size-fits-all drug policies are not enough. We need betterinformed policies, a more efficient allocation of sorely needed resources and prevention programmes that are targeted specifically at pregnant women, sex workers, people living with HIV/AIDS and prisoners.
All this is essential if we want to protect and improve the health and wellbeing of women, and move closer to a solution to the world’s drug problem. It is my hope that this will ultimately give more women like Ana-Paula the chance to regain control of their lives and provide brighter futures for them and their families.
President, International Narcotics Control Board
superhero movies with state-ofthe-art computer-generated imagery, spectacular stunts or big stars. But, what it does share with those movies is that this film will move you. Unfortunately, this film will not have a sequel bankrolled by a major studio, nor will there be similar quality local movies like this without our support.
Batu Caves, Selangor
Sangeeta Krishnasamy (right) in ‘Adiwiraku’.