Getting High in Paradise

The following accounts tell the grim story of the drug abuse situation in the Maldives:

My mother first introduced me to sex. A family friend abused me for money to support her mother�s drug usage. I was abused at the age of nine years. As my mother was an addict she sent me with a man asking me to do whatever he says. There I was abused. I came and told my mother about it and she pretended that she didn�t know that he was such a bad person. After that I heard mom encouraging him for the act saying that I might deny, as I was a child. My abuse was one main reason I had to use drugs in order to avoid stress. Thereafter sex is nothing precious for me. I had sex when I was 12 years old with my boyfriend. Later as I started using drugs I wanted to support my addiction so I got into a relationship with a dealer. My boyfriend does not allow me to be with many addicts or to go and buy drugs from others. I mostly use in my room at home with my boyfriend.

-female drug user

Wife of a brown sugar and hashish oil abuser had the following story:

On those days when my husband had taken a lot of drugs I ask my children not to irritate Dad. Not to make him promise to do anything for them or give anything to them. Because I know that he will not be able to keep the promises he makes to the children.

Sometimes I felt like killing all of my children and myself. There were days when I was not able to afford basic needs. Like a sanitary napkin when I have my periods. I go out in the night and collect plastic bags and make pads for myself. On such occasions people approach me thinking that I am a prostitute. I had no way of supporting my three children and myself so I had two affairs. They were with people who approached me when I go out at night to collect �things�.

My in -laws blame me for my husband�s drug use. They say that he uses drugs because of me. I feel very heavy inside as I feel that there is nobody who understands me. The fact that I do not have my husband by my side makes the hurt more. After my husband was taken away this time I felt lonelier than ever before. We were much close physically and mentally this time than any other time.

In Maldives the legal system interacts to make drug situation more complicated as the following story of a 19 year old boy illustrates:

I was dependent on brown sugar by the age of 16 and started stealing from home and outside. I used to steal from shops, mug people on the streets, cheat people for money and even begged on the streets. I continued like his until I was caught robbing a shop and sent to jail for two weeks and the brought to house arrest.

I was sentenced within a week and was banished. During my banishment, I used cologne and alcohol. I was brought back to house arrest after one year and then released after six months.

The above quotes are from the UNDP sponsored first ever comprehensive study of drug abuse in the country, Rapid Situation Assessment of Drug Abuse Situation in the Maldives 2003. Though the approach and the sampling used could have been better, it illustrates the grim situation facing an entire generation of Maldivians. Newspaper reports constantly remind of ever worsening of the situation. The Government�s response has been to spend more money on rehabilitation, getting more committees set-up and even praying to God for deliverance from drugs.

For Discussion & Comment: How could the Maldives effectively control the drug abuse situation in the country? Legalization is not an option- Maldives is a 100 percent Muslim country where all forms of alcohol and drugs are banned for locals. Quoting John Stuart Mill, "Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign" will not work.

Here is good survey of illegal drugs from The Economist. Here are drug policy experts on the blogosphere; Mark Kleiman, Drug War Rant of Pete Guither and Vicesquad.

Here is a recent story from New York Times Magazine about drug abuse, My Addicted Son.


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This page contains a single entry by Paul published on March 1, 2005 12:28 PM.

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