Criminalization and stigma exacerbate violence against women who use drugs in the Russian Federation

Criminalization and stigma exacerbate violence against women who use drugs in the Russian Federation

Report in relation to the 9th Periodic Report of the Russian Federation CEDAW/C/RUS/9

This report is submitted by Andrey Rylkov Foundation for Health and Social Justice (ARF) on behalf of the Russian Civil Society Mechanism for Monitoring of Drug Policy Reforms. The report has been prepared with the technical assistance of the HIV Legal Network and in cooperation with the Eurasian Harm Reduction Association and Stichting SKOSH.

This report provides additional information to our previous submission for the 2020 LOI review that examined multiple rights violations of women who use illicit drugs in Russia. This report has a narrower focus on violence against women who use illicit drugs and explores connection between the extreme level of violence and criminalization and stigmatization.

We call the attention of the Esteemed Committee Members to the extreme levels of suffering of this particular group inflicted by the systemic and systematic violence towards them and their extreme vulnerability due to stigma and criminalization. While women in Russia experience very high level of domestic violence, in women who use drugs it reaches extreme proportions. In addition to the extreme levels of domestic violence these women are also routinely exposed to police abuse, inhumane and cruel treatment by medical workers and humiliation and other emotional abuse on all levels of the society. And finally, women who use drugs are subjected to excessive levels of penalization which critically undermine their civil, economic, labor, parental and political rights and human dignity.

The additional data outlined in this report is drawn from the express assessment carried out by ARF in December 2020 – February 2021. It included reports of 73 women who use drugs. While the survey was anonymous, some women left their names and contact information for further research and investigation.

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