Being a woman in the UK feels extremely frightening at the moment. Women can’t safely walk home at night, we can’t exercise at the gym without feeling uncomfortable, we can’t dress a certain way without seeming inviting to men, and most recently, more than ever, we are unable to enjoy a drink in a nightclub without the fear of being spiked.
The issue of spiking is nothing new to the nightlife scene, but now it is more out of hand than ever before. Women are currently doing everything they can to be safe at night. We ensure we walk with someone in the dark, cover our drinks with cup lids and much more. However, due to women being more vigilant over their drinks, it has become clear those who are spiking have found an “easier” way to spike women. On social media, we are seeing countless amounts of young (mostly female) victims sharing their stories of the issue of being spiked on a night out. Not only are women being spiked (dare I say it) the old-fashioned way through our drinks, but are now being spiked through direct injections to the body with needles. There have been numerous incidents involving accounts of blacking out and finding large bruises with puncture wounds on them the next day.
According to a survey done by alcohol.org, spiking has increased by 108% over the last 3 years with 56% of women and 44% of men being spiked. It is clear we are currently in a spiking “epidemic”.
When it comes to reporting crimes like these, women become unsure of how effective making a report to the police would actually be. There is still the fear of the stigma of blame that women would face if they were to report the incident, which only lessens the chances of women feeling comfortable with filing a police report and having a medical examination. With the recent events occurring of the Sarah Everard case and the MET Police’s response on flagging down a bus if you are feeling unsafe in the presence of a male police officer, is anyone really surprised that women don’t feel safe to turn to the police for help?
This ongoing issue is finding women to use different methods to avoid being spiked rather than turning to the police. Recently a group of women from @_theegalitarian introduced a “community-led spiking database” for women to report their spiking incident on. This creates awareness for others to check the database and find out locations of most recent spiking. On this database you will see the method of spiking, the location, and the option of sharing the aftermath. This seems to be a more effective way of making a change than going to the police.
The real question is, how did the issue of spiking get to the point where needles have been thrown into the mix? Nightclubs did not do enough before this spiking epidemic. It is all fine and well having a bouncer at the front door doing random spot checks and for bar staff to provide cling film…but that is not enough. With the current climate, it is more important than ever for bouncers to be checking every single person who comes into a club and what they have on them. At most, a bouncer will care for how drunk you are and what age you are, and other than that, you’re free to go in. No bag checks, coat checks, nothing. This epidemic has gotten so out of hand, the idea of having a similar security system like airports do doesn’t seem like a crazy idea.
On October 28th, women across the UK were boycotting nightclubs through a “Girls Night In” to raise awareness of the issue of spiking and sexual harassment at venues. The movement is calling for more preventative measures and to demand spiking is taken seriously by nightclubs, bars, the police and by UK Governments. The boycott is demanding for spiking and sexual assault to be taken seriously through taking measures, such as funding anti-spiking devices in all clubs and bars, an awareness campaign targeted at men, and a good night out scheme in order to develop sexual violence prevention and response services to this issue.
There is something so unbelievably terrifying to think someone out there decided it is now too difficult to spike someone’s drink and needles are their way forward. Us humans have had to dodge a deadly virus for almost two years. Now women are also expected to not only avoid sexual harassment and make sure we make it home alive at night, but also avoid being injected by a needle or have our drinks tampered with. At most, we should be worrying about what to wear and if we can afford another night out in the town. We should never have to worry if our drinks will be spiked or if we will be injected. We are exhausted. Change needs to happen.