‘Girls Night In’: UK bars and clubs close in solidarity with anti-spiking boycott

Several bars and nightclubs in the UK have said they are closing on Wednesday to “stand in solidarity” with a nationwide protest at the number of young female clubbers being drugged on nights out – often as a prelude to attempted sexual assault.

The closures coincide with a one-night boycott of venues in over 30 towns and cities, called in response to a worrying increase in reports of women having drinks spiked, or being drugged with syringes.

The nationwide movement, ‘Girls Night In’, began following several police reports of female students being injected with needles while on nights out in recent weeks.

Reports have been recorded in Nottinghamshire, West Yorkshire, Edinburgh, Dundee, and Glasgow.

The movement hopes to prove women “deserve to have fun on nights out” and denounce the fear and anxiety women experience about possibly being drugged.

The University of Oxford’s anti-sexual violence campaign group ‘It Happens Here‘ is taking part in the national movement to address the problem.

Tasha Lovel and Timea Iliffe, co-chairs of the group, have called for people of all genders to boycott Oxford clubs and urged nightlife venues to do more to prevent spiking incidents from occurring.

“We’ve seen a phenomenal increase in reported and anecdotal evidence of spiking, including spiking by injection, which is a new and incredibly disturbing way,” Iliffe told Euronews.

The anti-sexual violence campaign group, which represents survivors and their allies, has also written an open letter to bars and clubs in Oxford calling on them to take further action to tackle the issue.

“We have a responsibility to try and help tackle this issue whenever it occurs,” the letter reads.

‘It Happens Here’ specifically asked nightlife venues what action they will take to prevent drink-spiking, whether their staff will receive training, their current policy to support individuals who believe to have been spiked, and their policy on identifying and stopping those suspected of spiking others.

“So far, we’ve had a very limited response from police and universities,” Tasha Lovel went on. “There have been reports of some universities even saying ‘Don’t get spiked’ and kind of this victim-blaming gaslighting attitude of not being a problem and ignoring it or continuing to and just completely invalidating the experiences of people that have been spiked and who raise their genuine concerns.”

“The first thing we are hoping to achieve is really to build momentum and show clubs, bars, venues, staff, and the police that we are taking this seriously. We’re going to stand up to this issue. We’re not going to take spiking at something that just happened, something you just have to be careful about,” Iliffe added.

“We don’t have specific details on the motives behind spiking and oftentimes law enforcement don’t either, because it’s such an underreported crime, it’s often too difficult to actually catch a perpetrator,” she revealed.

A petition calling for the British government to make thorough searches at the doors of nightclubs a legal requirement has received more than 100,000 signatures, meaning Parliament will consider the topic for debate.

Watch the interview with Tasha Lovel and Timea Iliffe of ‘It Happens Here’ in the video player above.

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