Date Rape Drugs and Needle Spiking

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 By Maham Abbasi, Copy Edited By Adam Rizvi, USA: The United Kingdom has seen a disturbing increase in women being injected with “spiked needles” filled with date rape drugs at nightclubs in cities with large student populations, according to reports from the media. As if women don’t already have enough to worry about on nights out. The spate of incidents has left women in the U.K. “terrified of going out” and the recent Astroworld tragedy has also raised serious concern about needle spiking.

More than one in three women globally report having experienced physical or sexual violence. Researches have pointed out that women who have experienced violence are at a much greater risk of depression. They are also more likely to be living with HIV and infections.
Violence against women has been defined as “any act of gender-based violence that results in physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life by The Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women.

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The Declaration requires States to “exercise due diligence to prevent, investigate and, by national legislation, punish acts of violence against women, whether those acts are perpetrated by the State or by private persons.
Date-rape drugs have held a powerful space in violence against women and are substances that make it easier for someone to rape or sexually assault another person. The person attacked becomes confused, has blurred memories of the incident, can have trouble defending themselves, and most do not even remember what happened later.
Women in the United Kingdom are agitated, upset, and concerned about the increased instances of violence happening with young students.

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Zara Owen, 19, says she felt a shooting pain in her leg after a night out at Nottingham’s Pryzm nightclub (Picture: BPM Media)

In recent news, The media in the UK has been reporting many cases of Date rape drugs. Women are being injected with spiked needles filled with these drugs. Young students have reported such incidents in Nottinghamshire and Scotland. The term ‘date rape drugs’ applies to any of these drugs: GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyric acid) Rohypnol (flunitrazepam), popularly called ‘roofies’ or Ketamine (ketamine hydrochloride).
While there has been a history of spiking drinks in clubs worldwide, needle spike is a recent phenomenon and a rather shocking one. Women are apprehensive about going to pubs. Hannah Thompson, aged 24, was eventually compelled to launch a petition and has received 1,72,725 signatures so far. Hannah is waiting for the British Parliament to schedule a date for a debate on the issue and the government to respond. Any petition that receives more than 1,00,000 signatures is considered for a debate in the country’s Parliament.

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Hannah Thompson

Hannah has been reported, expressing her concerns and is trying to achieve stricter measures and a safer, more enjoyable, and reassuring experience at nightclubs. ‘I just do not want anyone else to get hurt. It is a precaution, a preventive measure, and I want clubs to listen up.‘I want them to have more staff, install more CCTV, start putting out lids for drinks – these are all key things. ‘But ultimately, it is about avoiding harmful weapons getting into clubs and those dirty needles getting in.”

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Date rape drugs are common in India too. The previous month, an HR Executive in Bengaluru allegedly fell prey to a date rape drug. According to her complaint filed at the Banaswadi Police Station, two Nigerian nationals raped her when she became unconscious. The victim claimed that her drink had been laced with a date rape drug. Similar incidents have happened before and violence against women has been increasing.

During Travis Scott’s 2021 Astroworld Festival, at least eight attendees were pronounced dead and more injured. According to sources, police were looking into a drug-spiking incident in an area of the festival where the chaos first began. It appeared to have targeted unknowing people, and the crowd surge may have resulted from panic as attendees ran for safety.

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Understanding the scale of the problem is so important. Victims often don’t report it to the police they feel uncertain about what happened. Sometimes women don’t even mention whether a crime occurred and continue living in shame, guilt, and fear. It becomes embarrassing and depressing. Some also fear they could be investigated for drug offenses. Hannah, who studied in Edinburgh for four years, said she is ‘very fortunate’ and has never experienced spiking but has heard many young girls sharing experiences of such incidents. She wants things to change and everyone to have a safer environment.

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Estimates suggest that one-third of drink spiking incidents are associated with a sexual attack. Women are more likely to have their drinks spiked than men. Protect yourself and your friends against drink spiking. Basic safety suggestions include partying safely and socializing with trusted friends. Plan how you will watch out for each other while you are out and buy your own drinks. Watch the bartender prepare your drink and definitely don’t accept drinks from strangers. Keep a close eye on anyone who has had their drink spiked or been a victim of needle spiking. Call an ambulance if their condition deteriorates in any way and contact the police as soon as possible.

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Curated by Maham Abbasi and Compiled By Humra Kidwai

Maham Abbasi

Maham Abbasi

Maham Abbasi recently completed her Masters in Women’s Studies from, The Advanced Centre for Women’s Studies, AMU, India. A feminist at heart who revels at critiquing gendered societal constructs, she has been working on women's menstrual health and hygiene through her project called The No Shame since past two years. She works as a freelance content developer and writes extensively for women’s rights and issues.

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