Life is not easy as a drug user, especially if you are a woman, says Nukshinaro, vice-president of NGO Nagaland Users’ Network Credit: Representational image

Kohima: As Nagaland observed International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking 2019 on Wednesday, Nukshinaro, the vice-president of NGO Nagaland Users’ Network, took the stage in Kohima to express the dire need of “specific intervention” for women drug users.

At an event organised by the Kripa Foundation, Nukshinaro recalled how she was introduced to drugs during her first year in pre-university and how she continues to fight against rejection saying: “Life is not easy as a drug user, especially if you are a woman, and because there are a lot of stigma and discrimination attached to it, life is worse if you are a woman”.

She narrated how she experienced the inequality even within her family as her male cousins who used drugs were sent to rehabilitation centres and counselling, while she was “beaten up and locked up” in her room, although gradually she had overcome the use of drugs through the support of her family and friends.

With her share of experience, she advocated for a need to provide “specific intervention” for women drug users, especially on “sexual reproduction and health issues”. She stated that specific needs for women are denied by the central government and therefore appeals the state government for intervention.

Questioning as to why women are denied treatments such as ARV (antiretroviral drugs are used in an attempt to control HIV infection), Nukshinaro, who is also a representative at the Network of Nagaland Drugs and AIDs Organisation (N-NAGADAO) pondered if it is justifiable to deny women their rights to equal treatment.

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Further, she highlighted that women were “raped in jails” and were forced to abort, just because they were women drug users.

As a person living with HIV, she recalled how she began to openly reveal her status six months after testing positive, but how it had taken her almost eight years to reveal that she was a drug user.

With hardly any women leaders from the drug using community, she envisions a “holistic approach” which will eventually bring women on the forefront. She emotionally questioned as to why women were deprived of a second chance in life, while men with similar drug-using history, can live a normal life once again.

Meanwhile, the Kripa Foundation, N-NAGADAO, Kohima and Nagaland Users’ Network had jointly submitted a memorandum to the governor PB Acharya, who was also the special guest at the event, seeking budgetary allocations from the government to provide a holistic approach towards substance prevention.

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