A pro-women group, Gender Strategy Advancement International, has rejected the proposal of drug testing for intending brides in the country as a way to stem the increasing rate of drug addiction among girls and married women.
The group’s reaction came after the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) reportedly proposed drug testing for intending brides as part of premarital screening for single ladies in the country.
The Chairman of NDLEA, Mohammed Mustapha Abdalla, was said to have made the proposal while destroying seized illicit substances in Maiduguri last week.
Abdalla, according to reports, had lamented the alarming rate of drug addiction among women in the north.
“As an extension of the proposed Drug Integrity Test Policy for the public servants, the agency is considering partnering with religious leaders to make drug testing a prerequisite for marriages in churches and mosques as the case for HIV/AIDS,” the NDLEA boss was quoted to have said.
But reacting through its West Africa Coordinator, Ms. Adaora Onyechere, on Monday in Abuja, the group described the proposed policy as discriminatory.
“We find the call by the NDLEA to carry out drug tests on single ladies before marriage as sexist, reckless and poorly thought out. It’s such discriminatory policies that have continued to empower abusers of girls and women in this country,” Onyechere said in a statement.
Onyechere said the NDLEA’s proposal is one of several policies that set Nigeria, “back in its fight not just against gender based violence but also defeats the purpose of the orientation on the need to redefine our interpretations on gender identities.”
She asked, “why the segregation and what seems like emotional manipulation of the masses against women in the fight to end illicit drug abuse?
“The records show that hitherto illicit drug consumption used to be among the male youthful population though expanding to now include teenage girls, young women and old married women. But to intentionally segregate the consideration for just single women even when the higher percentage of consumption is amongst men and boys shows a complete lack of appropriate gender mapping on this issue across the states in Nigeria.”
Onyechere rather than single out women for such policies, the NDLEA should come up with an inclusive reorientation intervention to reduce illicit drug consumption which she said was a national emergency.
She called on civil society, the ministry of women affairs, women groups to resist what she called an “obnoxious” proposal capable of exposing the girl-child to, “gender apathy in NDLEA’s experimentation of finding solutions to illicit drug abuse.”