Drink spiking in the UK is on the rise. Reports have doubled in the last three years, according to a recent investigation, and The National Police Chiefs Council has said there were almost 200 confirmed reports of drink spiking in September and October alone this year.
A majority of these victims are young women who, for too long, have been expected to be the sole arbiter of their own safety. Girls who are just looking for a night out are told to cover their drinks and not take their eyes off of their friends. In the event that someone is spiked, shame is often the first emotion. Many feel they failed in their duty to protect themselves.
Girls Night In is a nationwide movement started by university students, a grassroots response to this epidemic of spiking in bars and clubs across the country. The hospitality and entertainment sector, police and policy makers must take urgent action to protect victims of spiking from harm and bring perpetrators to justice. The campaign is boycotting club nights and creating a safe space for women to share their stories. We need to shift the narrative from victim-shaming to perpetrator-blaming and call spiking out for what it really is: assault.
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The lack of action to protect women has allowed spiking to become a normalised part of clubbing culture. But girls have had enough. We understand the irony of calling for women to stay home from a movement that promotes female empowerment and the freedom to party safely. But the reality seems to be that, until businesses see a potential loss in revenue, the issue of women’s safety will not be taken seriously. Profit over people is the status quo and we can’t allow that to continue.
There’s arguably a wider national issue surrounding attitudes towards women. Recent reports of spiking by injection are an alarming development that should trigger national action. So far, despite numerous reports and photographic evidence which appears to back up the claims of injection spiking sent to Girls Night In Instagram pages across the country, only two arrests have been made in Nottingham in connection to needle spiking.
That many women feel they can come out and anonymously share their experiences with us is a positive, but it has highlighted that many feel hesitant to go to the police. Injecting women with dangerous and illegal sedatives should be taken as seriously under the eyes of the law as any other form of assault.