A Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Gender Strategy Advancement International has described the proposal by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) to carry out drug tests for single ladies as a prerequisite for marriage as sexist, reckless and dangerous.
The West African Coordinator of the group, Ms. Adaora Onyechere, in a personally signed statement sent to journalists, Monday in Abuja, called on the chairman of the NDLEA, Mohammed Mustapha Abdalla, “to wean himself off patriarchal biases, discriminatory policies and purse inclusion in what is a generic rather than gender vice”.
“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 the statement.
According to her, the NDLEA’s proposal is one of several policies that sets 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.”
Onyechere, a former presenter of A.I.T’s current affairs programme, Kaakaki wondered “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 youth population though expanding to now include teenage girls, young women and older married women. But to intentionally segregate the consideration to 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”, she further said.
She stressed that while the issue of drug abuse is a national emergency, what the NDLEA needs to do is to galvanise an inclusive reorientation intervention to reduce illicit drug consumption amongst all groups.
Onyechere called on civil society, the ministry of women affairs, women groups to resist the obnoxious proposal before it becomes a policy and further endanger the girl-child by exposing them to undue stigma and “gender apathy in NDLEA’s experimentation of finding solutions to illicit drug abuse.”
Recall that Abdalla announced the new proposal on Friday, August 21, while destroying seized illicit substances in Maiduguri.
Abdalla stated that drug tests may be included in premarital screenings due to the increase in rate of drug addiction among girls and married women.
The NDLEA boss said the target of illicit trafficked drugs which hitherto used to be among the male youthful population was fast expanding to now include teenage girls, young women and old married women.
“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”, he said.