A spontaneous campaign has sprung up across the country in response to a recent rise in drink-spiking – yet another danger that women face everyday under capitalism. To end oppression, we must fight to overthrow this decrepit system.
The Night Time Industry Association (NTIA) has said that they have seen a rise in drink-spiking throughout the UK in recent weeks. This confirms again what women already know: that we are not safe.
Whether it be walking alone at night like Sarah Everard or Sabina Nessa, going to the club, or even just living in our homes – we are at risk of assault and violence no matter where we are.
Increasingly, however, young people are standing up against violence against women.
In response to this epidemic of spiking, a spontaneous movement – predominantly amongst university students – has sprung up across the country.
Called ‘Girls Night In’, this campaign urges people of all genders to boycott nightclubs, in order to pressure them to implement greater measures to prevent spiking.
Over the last few weeks, Instagram pages for Girls Night In campaigns in various cities all over the UK have generated thousands of followers each. This has also prompted many women to share their experiences of the brutality and fear generated by such attacks.
One Nottingham student said: “…I couldn’t get my words out, I collapsed, I started throwing up in the taxi on the way home. [My friends] could tell something’s really wrong here because I was falling in and out of consciousness.”
Another stated: “Last week my friend got injected with a needle…and ended up throwing up blood and spending the night in hospital.”
Demands from the campaign include clubs providing drinks covers, clear cups, and extra training for staff, as well as more direct access to medical facilities and safe transportation.
Other demands have also emerged that call for greater searching powers and surveillance. A petition has sprung up, for example, with over 150,000 signatures, calling for the implementation of a new law that would require clubs to search all guests entering clubs.
It is unlikely that extra training for staff will be able to effectively deal with this issue, however.
Even before this campaign started, the crisis of capitalism did not leave the nighttime sector untouched, with widespread reports across the industry of long-term shortages of security and bar staff.
This had led to clubs, in order to continue making money after nearly two years of closure during the pandemic, putting under-trained and overstretched staff on the frontline of dealing with this surge in spiking – leaving women even more vulnerable.
In response to this groundswell of anger, Tory home secretary Priti Patel has urged police forces to look into the problem more. Nottinghamshire Police (with other police forces likely to follow suit) has also said that it will be deploying more officers over the next few weekends.
As Marxists, we must make it clear that more police powers, greater surveillance, or more cops on the beat will not prevent violence against women.
What is more plausible is that these extra powers will instead be used to further harass BAME communities and other oppressed layers in society, who already disproportionately bear the brunt of state violence.
This includes women themselves. After all, it was using the extra powers given to him to tackle lockdown violations that Wayne Couzens was able to abduct and murder Sarah Everard. Bystanders thought they were witnessing a valid arrest, given the authority the police hold.
Ultimately, the police and the state do not exist to protect women, but to protect the power of the capitalist class and their system. They are the boots-on-the-ground defenders of capitalism – a horrific system that relies on misogyny and racism to divide the working class.
This is borne out by the statistics. While reports of sexual assault and rape have increased, rape convictions are at an historic low. In periods of acute crisis like we are living through now, the state is uninterested in helping women.
Alongside increased violence since the start of the pandemic, women have disproportionately been affected by over a decade of austerity, which has completely eroded the safety nets – hard-won by the labour movement – that once existed for working-class women.
Lenin’s assertion that “capitalism is horror without end” is proven every day for women. We must overthrow this sick system.
For all their words, establishment politicians cannot defend the interests of women, while also defending this decrepit system that perpetuates violence against women.
Only through the complete overthrow of the capitalist system and its replacement with a socialist society can we ensure the safety of every person, and rid society of the rotten relics of misogyny and violence.
Statement from Birmingham Marxists
Women’s safety over the last few months has only got worse, and nothing is being done about it. The idea of going out at night is becoming increasingly scarier – with many opting to stay in, and those who go out having to devise new strategies to stay safe.
But it’s not just going out at night; it’s coming back home after late lectures or clubs / societies in the evenings. The fear and anger at this can be felt on the Birmingham Fab ‘n’ Fresh page, where many are protesting the lack of safety and demanding action be taken.
The University of Birmingham’s response to this has come quite late, after many societies and individuals have already boycotted Guild [student union] events, which were cancelled in response, and several people being spiked over Halloween weekend.
They have called for increased frequency of searches, which doesn’t guarantee that people will be searched at all events. Furthermore, they have called for ‘enhanced police presence’, which since Sarah Everard was murdered by a police officer, doesn’t instill confidence. On top of this, their response doesn’t say what actions will be taken against those in possession of needles or drugs.
Dame Cressida Dick was also brought in by the university to give a talk on women’s safety. However, this was postponed due to the threat of mass protest of the students, who were angered by the lack of action, and by Dick’s perpetuation of victim blaming.
This, along with the Reclaim Campus protest, shows that gains will only be made through the mass movement of students.
It is clear that the Guild will not fight for our interests while it is under control of university management. The only way forward, therefore, is to fight for an independent Guild and the democratic student-staff running of the university, in order to defend our interests and protect us.