When will women be safe?
As police forces investigate reports of women being victims of “spiking injections” and the Home Secretary requests an urgent update, what is actually going on?
Priti Patel’s intervention comes after police in Nottingham arrested a 20-year-old man as part of an investigation into spiking, following social media reports of women being injected with needles in the past fortnight.
A 19-year-old student said on social media that she had woken up with “zero recollection” of her evening at a nightclub and had a “sharp, agonising pain” in her leg that meant she could not walk without limping, and she later discovered a pinprick mark on her leg.
Incidents of alleged drink spiking in bars or clubs have also been reported, with Police Scotland saying they were investigating such cases in three cities.
Women in a number of UK cities, including Edinburgh and Nottingham, have posted text and images detailing experiences in which they believe they were spiked by “needles”. Several of the accounts include stories of blacking out and waking up the next morning to find a puncture wound on their arm, leg or lower back.
One post on Twitter from an account that has since been made private showed what looks like a swollen puncture wound on a woman’s elbow, with text reading: “The injection left me unable to walk without the help of someone else and I could barely string a sentence together, thankfully I was not alone and had a friend with me. Posting for awareness as I stupidly didn’t think this would ever happen to me and that it wasn’t common enough to be happening in Dundee.”
These posts, as well as others talking about the alleged “spiking injections”, have gone viral, with many calling for better safety measures from nightclubs. Alex Mills, a female student at Nottingham Trent University, is raising awareness locally about “Girls Night In”, a national boycott of nightclubs, set to take place in late October in several cities across the country. She said: “It’s awful. I missed clubbing so much as I was in first year when COVID happened. I’ve only been out a few times since everything’s reopened and now I’m scared to go out.”
More than 120,000 people have signed a petition calling for clubs to be legally required to search guests on entry more thoroughly for weapons and drugs.
The Home Office has requested an update from police forces on their findings from investigations so far. A government source said the recent reports were “absolutely awful” and added: “We have asked for an update from the police on this and would encourage anyone to report this behaviour to the police.”
Labour called it “yet another example of the appalling violence faced by women and girls, day in day out”. Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds urged the government to “bring together the police, venues, universities and – crucially – listen to women who have been attacked … to help prevent this happening again”.
The recent murder of Sarah Everard shone a spotlight on a culture of harassment and violence against women and girls, sparking protests and calls for reform. The recent killing of Sabina Nessa has appalled the nation and now young girls are being injected unknowingly, being subjected to all sorts of activities against their will.
So what is the answer, what can be done to make women and girls feel safer?
One thing that has repeatedly been called for by campaigning groups and individuals is a change in emphasis in the way police deal with gender-based crimes against women and girls.
Young women are being spiked by injection at nightclubs and house parties. The Government’s reponse? Ask the police for an urgent update.
Labour will make violence against women and girls count as a serious crime in legislation.
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