Pompidou Group - Co-operation Group to Combat Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking in Drugs

The Pompidou Group, perceived as a pioneer in Europe regarding the integration of the gender dimension into drug policies, has always called for better understanding of both gender specific differences.

Seminar “Women and Drugs: from policy to good practice” Rome, 26-27 June 2017, National School of Administration
This event, co-organised by the Italian Department for Anti-Drug Policies (Dipartimento politiche antidroga) and the Pompidou Group of the Council of Europe, took place on 26 June, on the occasion of the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.

The importance of appropriately mainstream gender in drug-related policies and programmes is recognized in the outcome document of the 2016 United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the world drug problem and in the CND 59/5 resolution on mainstreaming a gender perspective in drug related policies and programmes.

At the opening of the seminar by Ms Maria Elena Boschi, Undersecretary of State, Presidency of the Council of Ministers, Ms. Gabriella Battaini-Dragoni, Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe, stresse
d in a video address that “women who experience the coincidence of drug use and violence are among the most marginal voices in our societies” and that their interest and rights “are the most easily ignored”.

Her statement is backed by the policy-makers, researchers and practitioners who present good practices in women and drug addiction research, prevention, care and treatment and, drug related offences with the ultimate aim of integrating a gender dimension in drug policy. To this end, Italy, Spain and Sweden present how the gender dimension is introduced into their national drug strategies.


Gender Dimension of non-medical use of prescription drugs
In recent years, the non-medical use of prescription drugs (NMUPD) has caused increasing public concern around the globe. Women constitue a special risk category for NMUPD and understanding gender as it relates to NMUPD is now a critical requirement for effective policy and practice.

Understanding gender as it relates to drug use and drug use disorders is a critical requirement to developing effective policy and practice responses. This study aims to explore the gender dimension of non-medical use of prescription drugs (NMUPD) in Europe and the Mediterranean region and continues to build on the corpus of knowledge on the subject and also help identify gaps.

In November 2013, the PCs welcomed the initiative by Italy to launch and fund a gender specific project covering Europe and the Mediterranean Region to study the gender dimension of non medical use of prescription drugs. Within less than a year, this first study was carried out.

Intended primarily for policy makers and researchers, this Pompidou Group Gender dimension publications aim to explore gender specificities in terms of use and misuse of prescription drugs in Europe and the Mediterranean region. Using secondary sources, it also seeks to to identify gaps in the data available in the area covered and to make recommendations for further research, for coherent policy development and effective gender sensitive practice.

suite Click HERE to open the study

suite Gender booklet
Women, Drugs and Violence
The lives of women who use drugs are punctuated by traumas and violence suffered during childhood or adulthood. These women form a minority of the patients seen by addiction- management and risk and harm-reduction professionals, who mainly take care of men. The 2015 Council of Europe publication The gender dimension of nonmedical use of prescription drugs in Europe and in the Mediterranean region called for a better understanding of the link between drug use among women and violence. A review of literature on violence experienced by women who use drugs established that, among the general population, drug users are confronted more with violence and that their drug use increases when violence is experienced, in particular among women. In order to give this research an operational perspective, the Pompidou Group, at the initiative of Italy, launched a consultation process among professionals in four countries: France, Italy, Portugal and Spain.
This DOCUMENT presents the recommendations of the study, which aim at improving care for women who use drugs and are victims of violence. The professionals interviewed ask policy makers, first and foremost, to recognise the link between violence and psychoactive substance use, by including the question of violence in national drug strategies and programmes and by including the question of addiction to psychoactive substances in national strategies and programmes for combating violence against women.

Gender Dimension publications
This publication is an initial attempt to map this emerging phenomenon in Europe and the Mediterranean and to identify lacunae and avenues for further investigation. It constitutes an important resource for those interested in the interaction between gender and drug use.

suite  Click HERE for details  

In the US, non-medical use of prescription drugs is second only to marijuana. Marc Buhagiar meets up with Prof. Marilyn Clark to investigate just how dangerous this problem is around Europe. Illustrations by Sonya Hallett

suite Click HERE to read the work

The publication on Gender dimension of non-medical use of prescription drugs in Europe and the Mediterranean region contains a number of recommendations for researchers, professionals and policy-makers and also calls for a better understanding of the problem of violence and drug use among women. Therefore a review of literature on violence (experienced or perpetrated) and on psychoactive substance use among women in Europe and in the Mediterranean region was conducted. The objective was to make an initial assessment of existing knowledge concerning the links between violence against women and psychoactive substance use among women and identify lines of research, and also to suggest guidelines for professional advice. Sixty three articles related to the issue of violence and the use of psychoactive substances among women, published in Belgium, Egypt, France, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Netherlands, Norway, Morocco, Spain and Sweden appear in this exploratory research.
In order to give this research an operational perspective, it is proposed to build on this work by consulting addiction treatment, risk and harm reduction professionals. Focus groups will be conducted in four countries: France, Italy, Portugal and Spain.

suite Click HERE to open the report

Drug-facilitated sexual assaults
Beginning in 2016, the Pompidou Group has spearheaded an activity to understand sexual violence against women enabled by rape drugs and its implications. Seventeen experts from fifteen countries, as well as a representative from the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), are participating in this activity. The group’s phase one working plan included collecting data regarding the prevalence of DFSA cases, reviewing existing findings and case law, and reviewing existing national law regarding rape and sexual assault. Additional work includes a draft report on Violence, Women and Rape Drugs and a working group meeting to discuss the report and the progress of the activity, which convened in Rome on 27 June 2017.
Sexual violence against women enabled by rape drugs can be described as a complex socio-legal phenomenon. It is well known that rape is one of the “darkest dark figures” of crime and the situation for incidents/cases of sexual assaults that occur after the intoxication of the victim is even worse.

The term “rape drugs” describes the phenomenon of using drugs to induce people - and especially women - to submit to sexual activity without their consent. The most used terminology for this topic is “drug-facilitated sexual assaults” (DFSA), “date-rape drugs” (DRDs) or “knockout drugs”. According to the definition adopted by the UK Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs in 2007, drug-facilitated sexual assault includes ‘all forms of non-consensual penetrative sexual activity whether it involves the forcible or covert administration of an incapacitating or disinhibiting substance by an assailant, for the purposes of serious sexual assault; as well as sexual activity by an assailant with a victim who is profoundly intoxicated by his or her own actions to the point of near or actual unconsciousness’ (ACDM, 2007).