Intended for healthcare professionals

Observations War on Drugs

Women bear the brunt of illicit drug policies

BMJ 2017; 356 doi: (Published 07 March 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;356:j731
  1. Kasia Malinowska, director of the global drug policy program1,
  2. Bethany Medley, intern and graduate student2
  1. 1Open Society Foundations, New York, USA
  2. 2School of Social Work, Columbia University, New York, USA
  1. kasia.malinowska{at}

Women who use drugs are at particular risk of violence, infection, and death because of punitive policies to enforce prohibition, write Kasia Malinowska and Bethany Medley

With the new US administration, advocating for the health and human rights of women is more important than ever.

Two days after the unprecedented turnout for the women’s marches around the world on 21 January, the first day of Donald Trump’s presidency, the president reinstated the “global gag rule,” which bans any organization from receiving US aid if it counsels women about the option of abortion.1 This time he massively expanded the rule, barring the exemptions for HIV programs that President George Bush had allowed.

In addition to cutting funding for family planning services, the policy will damage global public health, including HIV and AIDS prevention and treatment. Women who use drugs are …

View Full Text

Log in

Log in through your institution


* For online subscription