Shedding Light on Abuse: Alliance India study shows that almost 50% of women who inject drugs in Manipur report harassment and abuse from community members

Female injecting drug users with family support are usually provided detoxification therapy at home while those with no family support seek therapy at Chanura Kol’s short stay home. With the Addict’s Prayer in the background, a short stay home resident (pictured above) says her morning prayers.
Photographer: Prashant Panjiar

“The findings of this study are essential to understanding the lack of a support system in the lives of women who inject drugs, which significantly increases their isolation and vulnerability to seeking sex work as a means of earning a livelihood and their risk of relapsing into drug use.”

A study conducted by Alliance India sheds light on the extent of the social discrimination and isolation experienced by women who inject drugs in Manipur. The findings of this study are essential to understanding the lack of a support system in the lives of women who inject drugs, which significantly increases their isolation and vulnerability to seeking sex work as a means of earning a livelihood and their risk of relapsing into drug use.

Alliance India’s study found that almost 50% of women who inject drugs reported having experienced harassment, teasing and abuse by community members. 33% of women interviewed said that they had been excluded from community events because of their drug use. In addition to this, 20% of women reported being arrested by police officials, and 3% amongst this group recounted being asked for sexual favours to avoid arrest.

Stigma and discrimination by family members was also quite common with 32% of women reporting that their families isolated them and did not involve them in daily family matters because of their drug use, while 33% reported that their relatives did not allow them to mingle with their own family members.

This study, which can be downloaded here, emphasizes the need to educate and counsel family members to support their female relatives who inject drugs. This is a key element in the holistic range of services offered by Chanura Kol to help prevent injecting female drug users in Manipur from relapsing.

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Funded by the Elton John AIDS Foundation, Chanura Kol was initiated in 2010 and serves to expand interventions to reduce relapse among female injecting drug users. Based on a holistic and sustainable approach, Chanura Kol aims to address the root causes of vulnerability and the primary causes of relapse post-detoxification for women who inject drugs in India’s Northeastern state of Manipur, many of whom are also sex workers. Chanura Kol provides these women with long-term shelter, creates opportunities for income generation outside of sex work, and helps them rebuild family relationships.

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