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With the full-scale reopening of nightclubs since July this year, and the presence of high level murder cases like the death of Sarah Everard, the epidemic of violence against women (especially with regards to sexual assault) has increasingly become a mainstay in news and media headlines.
In a survey taken by ‘UN Women UK’ this year, 97% of women aged 18-24 said they had been sexually harassed at some point in their lives. Behind the numbers lies the fact that almost every woman in the UK has a story about sexual harassment or assault. Rather than facilitating a system where the 97% suffer on a daily basis, the dire issue of women’s safety calls for immediate societal action.
In the last month, a sharp increase in spiking has been reported across the country by young women, whether by drinks tampering or direct injection, in nightclubs. Incidents of injection-based spiking have reached as close to Lancaster as Preston, where 18 year old Georgia Hills was admitted to Royal Preston Hospital on the 23rd of October due to a suspected spiking case that is currently under investigation.
The ‘Night In’ Movement, created in solidarity with the victims, is calling for university students to boycott nightclubs until a change in their regulations sees the safety of women in these establishments restored. The movement is relying on the support of university students as the major proportion of nightclub customers—nightlife socialisation is, of course, ingrained into university culture as an escape from busy academic timetables.
However, as support for the ‘Night In’ Movement continues, we are starting to wake up from this age-old notion that women are temptresses and men have no autonomy over their actions. For those of us who have grown up in a world where blatant misogyny was the norm, the scars of internalisation are all too prevalent.
The socially predominant narrative suggests that the responsibility lies with women to prevent violence against themselves, proving that victim-blaming is alive and rife in the media today.
Consequently, when a woman’s assault is publicised, without fail, the same tiresome questions flood social media:
What was she doing out so late?
Why was she on her own?
Why was she drinking so much?
If she was so uncomfortable, why didn’t she just go home?
Few, if any, victims of other crimes are categorically met with similar indignation.
It’s therefore unsurprising that some feel as though the ‘Night In’ Movement is missing the mark, coming as more of a punishment for victims, rather than attacking the root of the problem.
After all, nobody should have to forego nightclubs, pubs or any environment simply because the narrative dictates that the freedom of offenders trumps the freedom of the victim.
Instead of boycotting, this epidemic calls for education, a perspective shared by Shamsher Chohan through the ‘Stand By Her’ Programme. Developed in collaboration with Nottinghamshire Women’s Aid, ‘Stand By Her’ plans to empower men to challenge harmful behaviour towards women, changing the conversation and take action against misogyny.
‘Stand By Her’ recognise misogyny as rooted in society at a young age resulting in their campaign revolving predominately around the eradication of internalised sexism among the younger generation. Shamsher believes that, “reaching perpetrators isn’t what this is about…it’s about tackling those low level behaviours like inappropriate banter, sexist jokes” which inevitably lead to more aggressive, misogynistic behaviour.
Only once these misogynistic perspectives are removed from society, can we effectively end the gender inequality present today.
Change is long overdue and it starts on an individual level. SCAN are proud to support the ‘Night In’ Movement in Lancaster and nationwide, to hold nightclubs to a better standard of safety until the actions of individuals facilitate a safer world. However, recognising all side to misogyny is just as important.