Understanding experiences of GBV among women who use drugs (WWUD) and developing prevention and response framework in Coast, Kenya

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Women who use drugs in Kenya face violence every day. At home. On the streets. By the police. In their communities. A unique study – conducted in Mombasa, Kenya – sheds light on the tough realities these women encounter.

This study is the result of an inspiring collaboration: Dr. Habil Otanga (University of Nairobi) teamed up with MEWA (Kenya), Liverpool John Moores University and Mainline. The goal: to uncover the lived-realities of women who use drugs where it concerns gender-based violence.

Gender-based violence (GBV) is caused by systemic gender inequalities and encompasses all acts of physical, emotional, sexual and psychological violence perpetuated against a person due to their gender (UNHCR, 2020). It is estimated that 35% of women worldwide have experienced some form of physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner, or sexual violence perpetrated by a non-partner (WHO, 2013a). Prevalence is estimated to be higher in sub-Saharan Africa (Pack, L’Engle, Mwarogo, & Kingola, 2014).

Although a number of studies have investigated GBV, including both intimate and nonintimate partner violence in the general population and among sex workers, relatively few studies have investigated the experience of GBV among women who use drugs (WWUD). Data on the prevalence of GBV and its underlying factors among this vulnerable group therefore remains relatively sparse and anecdotal. Considering literature that has found links between intimate partner violence, substance use, sexual decision making and HIV/AIDS, there is a gap in evidence on vulnerable populations especially WWUD in sub-Saharan Africa.

This study therefore seeks to explore the lived experiences of WWUD and their children in Kenya, in relation to different types of GBV; and structures that perpetuate GBV among this population.

Topics: Community monitoring

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