In August 2017, a research mission to Estonia was organised with a goal to assess the situation with the protection of human rights of women who use drugs. The research project has been organised in partnership between international and local organisations – Eurasian Harm Reduction Association (EHRA), the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network (CHALN), and Estonian Association of People Who Use Psychotropic Substances LUNEST.
Research methodology was based on in-depth interviews carried out by international and local experts. 38 Russian and Estonian-language interviews were taken during the field trip to Estonia: 29 interviews have been taken in Ida-Viru County and 9 in Tallinn. All of the 37 respondents were female, aged 26 – 46 years old, mean age 35 years.
The research found drug laws and drug enforcement practices, combined with stigma related to drugs and HIV, are the main drivers of systematic and serious violations of the human rights of women who use drugs or who are drug dependent. Stigma and human rights violations undermine the State’s efforts in HIV prevention, care, and treatment, and its overall efforts to respect, protect, and fulfill the right to health of women who use drugs or who are drug dependent. For these reasons, the Government of Estonia should address a variety of issues related to the protection of human rights of such vulnerable group of society as women who use drugs.