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Women assert their voices in conversations about drug use.

The International Network of Women who Use Drugs (INWUD) is excited to announce the top three winners of the Narcofeminism Blog Competition “Our bodies, Our choice, Our rights, Our voice”

1st Prize Emily Arnold, Junkies, sluts and feminists: where are we in the witch legacy?

2nd Prize Jessica Spratt, Owning My Pleasure

3rd Prize Violet Maodi, Stigma and discrimination have no place in my life

INWUD aims to address the specific needs and rights of women who use drugs and women living with HIV. We do this by providing a women-only safe space for engaging in global advocacy with stakeholders. We believe in meaningful engagement and empowerment of women who use drugs to take control of their own narrative about drug use. To this end, INWUD launched the Narcofeminism blog competition to create space for women to share their rich life experiences and lessons learned. The diversity and breadth of all these stories and life lessons have the capacity to change the lives of other women while challenging public perception and stereotypes about women who use drugs.

First prize – Emily Arnold

The winning submission by Emily Arnold, Emily Arnold, Junkies, sluts and feminists: where are we in the witch legacy? reclaims the word “junkies”. The author looks at the growing voices of empowered women who chart their own path but laments the absence of women who use drugs in this conversation. “Where are the junkie sluts? Where’s the women who use drugs? Why are we not included with these other once ‘offensive’ female identities?” she asks.

Second prize – Jessica Spratt

Part of the dominant narrative about why women use drugs tends to pathologise their choice. It is suggested that most women use drugs as a way of self-medicating to deal with trauma. Our second prize winner Jessica Spratt in her submission Owning My Pleasure introduces self-determination and choice by women to use drugs for pleasure. She replaces the shame that stigma and discrimination have visited on women who use drugs with joy. “I accept that this lifestyle may not be to everyone’s tastes, but it has allowed for moments of happiness, pleasure and friendship that I would not have experienced without drugs”.

Third prize – Violet Maodi

The hurt that is caused by punitive laws, bigotry and intolerance towards women who use drugs is tangible in Violet Maodi’s submission. The title of her submission is Stigma and discrimination have no place in my life. Violet tracks the pain of being shut out by her own family and community because she was using drugs. “What hurt me the most was when my family started treating me like a stranger, suddenly everything was rearranged in the house and doors were locked to keep valuables safely hidden from me and as if that was not enough my rights as a mother to my children were violated when my family decided to have my children relocated without my knowledge just so they could control how much access I have to them”.

Panel of judges

INWUD would like to thank the panel of judges, Olga Belyaeva, Aura Roig and Judy Chang for their time in reading all the heartfelt submission from women who use drugs around the world. The other submissions brought to life the concept of Narcofeminism – a narrative-reforming movement that brings together women who use drugs in all their diversity to challenge outdated, stigmatising and patriarchal narratives about women’s bodies, their choices, their rights and their voices. We appreciate the trust that the entrants showed in sharing their stories with us and we hope you enjoy reading them as we did. Please click here to read the other submissions.

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