There is limited data on the experiences and needs of women who use drugs in Malaysia. Research elsewhere has shown that women who use drugs face increased increased risks of HIV transmission, higher levels of stigma compared to men who use drugs, high levels of intimate partner violence, and mental illness.
Women who use drugs face more stigma than men who use drugs because their drug use is seen as contravening the natural roles of women in society i.e. mothers, the anchors of their families, and “caretakers”. They are perceived to be bad women and bad mothers, and this has in some societies resulted in an unjustifiable ‘moral panic’. This moral panic often results in women who use drugs having their children removed from them, either by social services or by relatives.
This report provides a snapshot into the lives of several women who use drugs in 4 areas in Malaysia: the northern states of Penang and Kelantan, the centrally located Klang Valley which includes the states of Kuala Lumpur and Selangor, and the southern state of Johor. It is not generalisable to all women who use drugs in the country. It should be noted that many women who use drugs use them occasionally and without problems, and that the women depicted in this study and resulting policy report represent women who use drugs problematically and experience harms related to their drug use.
These women are often from a low socioeconomic background, and are within reach of our outreach workers. A Policy Brief on Women who Use Drugs in Malaysia.Related Article