As the night-time economy reopens, there must be zero tolerance for the spiking of women with drugs in our clubs and pubs, with increased awareness of the issue amongst men in particular needed, the Fine Gael Seanad Leader has warned.
Senator Regina Doherty said, “The abhorrent practise of spiking women and girls with drug filled needles is on the rise in the UK and unfortunately is now also being reported by young Irish women on social media.
“As is so often the case with issues of gender-based harassment and violence, much of the messaging surrounding this issue is targeted towards women. However, we need to look at what we are saying to the preparators of these crimes as without speaking to them directly, this problem will only continue for years and generations to come.
“While of course not all men are the problem, all men must be aware of this issue and vigilant for it on nights out so they can step in and call it out if necessary. This issue has weighed on the shoulders of women for far too long, and men need to recognise their role in putting an end to this once and for all.
“The sad reality of life is that women have had to be vigilant around their drinks on a night out for many years now, but this new insidious trend of needle spiking can be harder to protect yourself from in a busy club or pub.
“I understand the Gardaí are monitoring this situation and I want to see zero tolerance for any perpetrators of this crime. Former Minister for Justice Nora Owen made it a specific offence to injure a person with a syringe, and increased penalties for those who used syringes as a weapon.
“There must be zero tolerance from our police, zero tolerance from nightclub and bar staff, and zero tolerance from men.
“A lot of the early messaging on this from the HSE seems to be aimed towards women and girls; highlighting the dangers and encouraging them to stay vigilant on nights out. However, who is talking to young men about consent, about the right to bodily integrity, about the fact that this is just plain wrong?
“While we can default to better education and awareness, at the end of the day this comes down to being a basically functional human being who doesn’t premeditate drugging another human for some sexual advantage
“There must be zero tolerance for harassment and sexual violence in all its forms, but it is also through early education we can begin to see real cultural and societal change in relation to attitudes to women.
“Third level students are increasingly better equipped to discuss and deal with these issues. For example, the ‘Start Here’ campaign informs students and staff on how to respond if they learn of harassment or sexual violence. We need to be having these conversations at school level also and we need to review our State-funded RSE resources and curriculum to ensure it is keeping up with the times in which we live. The only way to break the endemic sexual and gender-based violence in our country is with a comprehensive and new approach to relationship and sexual education.”