A Blind Spot in the Movement Against Gender-Based Violence
 

December 8, 2017   Olga Rychkova

When Yulia, the coordinator of the women’s outreach program at a harm reduction service in Kyiv, Ukraine, noticed a young client’s relationship with her partner was becoming increasingly violent, she called the local government-run women’s shelter for help. The reply was short: “Does she use drugs or alcohol? Yes? Then we cannot take her.”

The shelter eventually agreed to admit the woman on the condition that she enroll in a methadone program and stop using illegal drugs. But Yulia remains worried: “Even if he lets her, enrolling into drug treatment will take weeks, while I need to get her into safety tonight. And I cannot call the police: instead of protection, she will get arrested because she is a drug user.”

Yulia’s client is not alone. According to the World Health Organization, one in three women will experience violence in her life, most commonly at the hand of an intimate partner. But for women who use drugs, this number is closer to 76 percent, like in Indonesia, or 80 percent, like in Kyrgyzstan—where half of the women surveyed also named the police among their abusers.

More on www.opensocietyfoundation.org 


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