Punished for using drugs, now I support peers to fight back – Olga’s story

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Olga is a street lawyer and outreach worker in Kyrgyzstan.

When I was 21 I was using opium. I got caught and given a year’s probation simply for drug use. I spent a year in the penal colony. They didn’t let me out early, as this was the decision of the head of the colony, and it depended on him who out of the colony early and who didn’t. When I was released, I got using again, even more. And when they caught me again, I was pregnant. They gave me a shorter sentence because of the pregnancy. That’s 2 years in prison. I had a baby there. When the baby was 9 months old, my mother took the baby out of prison.

When I was released, I decided that I would not use heroin (heroin was on the market here) or opium. I used hashish. So it would be easier to get rid of dependency on hard drugs. My girlfriend also decided to take hashish together with me. My friend also had a previous conviction for consumption. My daughter was two years old at the time. We were walking with my friend and my child when we were stopped by the police and taken to the police station. We spent half a year in pre-trial detention.

After six months, they gave me a suspended sentence because of the baby. And my friend was sentenced to 4 years in prison. For hashish. But after heroin and opium, the type of drug doesn’t matter- one day in jail counts as two days in jail. The court considered that I had served a year and gave me a year’s suspended sentence.

I now work as an outreach worker and street lawyer. It is important to me that women who use drugs know their rights. 


Olga’s story was originally compiled by the Asteria Public Foundation. The story was translated using DeepL.com, and edited for clarity