'Drinkspiking', the danger that threatens nightlife

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The increase in cases of drugged people, especially women, limits freedom during the early hours of the party

'Drinkspiking' is a term, coined in Britain, that refers to someone putting alcohol or other drugs into someone else's drink without their consent, and for purposes often surrounding theft or sexual abuse. Alcohol is the most common substance in these types of attacks, but the use of other drugs, such as benzodiazepines (such as Rohypnol), GHB (also known as liquid ecstasy) or ketamine, is common.

However, the use of these drugs increases the danger, since they are colorless and odorless, making them less easy to detect. They cause drowsiness and memory loss in high doses. From the Ministry of Equality, directed by Irene Montero, they explain that "it is one of the formulas used by sexual aggressors to be able to attack with impunity and without the consent and will of the victims."

Adding these substances to beverages can lead to hospitalization or even death. But even before this, the danger is that the victim could suffer psychological effects after being attacked, especially if she is also attacked.

The symptoms of these acts can sometimes be mistaken for severe alcohol intoxication, leading to the common assumption that the victim was drunk rather than high. In addition, by the time the victim decides to report some drugs, they may have been eliminated from the body, which hinders their detection. This makes police work difficult, since obtaining data on the frequency of these crimes and the relevant evidence is very complex to obtain. Only when the attacks use an injection with a narcotic effect is there palpable evidence in the victims.

An unprecedented danger

What does seem clear is that these narcotic acts are nothing new and are on the rise. As early as 2004 there were studies, such as the one conducted by the Australian Government, which showed that there were around 3,000 to 4,000 suspected incidents of drink poisoning per year in the country. It is believed that less than 15% of those incidents were reported to the police.

Adding to this terrible phenomenon, which has been on the rise, are the effects of the pandemic, as medicines and pharmaceutical compounds have become more accessible through internet orders and home deliveries. On the other hand, there are reports that certify the increase in the non-medical use of benzodiazepines, which are used as a very powerful sedative.

In 2021 the rebound in cases has been notorious. In November last year, hundreds of women gathered in Brussels to denounce violence, sexual assault and drug use in bars and nightclubs in the country. They accused the police of not taking into account the cases of girls being drugged and/or sexually abused, which had risen sharply since October. From that moment on, the #Balancetonbar campaign spread throughout Europe, especially in urban centers such as Paris or London.

Existing risk in the territory

In Spain, the situation has not been very different. For example, the regional government of the capital confirmed at the end of 2021 the increase in events that included sedation with abductions, crimes of homicide and sexual abuse. In addition to defining the problem as "chemical submission", they related it in particular to crimes of a sexual nature. The report of the Community of Madrid included a heartbreaking fact, and that is that this type of crime has gone from being 14% of sexual assaults recorded in 2019, to 35% last year.

In addition, the controversy surrounding the bars has also reached Spanish lands. In November 2021, reports emerged about a bar in the Madrid area of ​​Ópera, where several women alleged that after being invited to a shot by the waiter, they do not remember anything else from that night; only vaginal pain the next morning. This news mobilized protests near the establishment, shouting "Safe nightlife for women", and also on social networks, with the hashtag #Denunciatubar.

In a short time, the homonymous account accumulated more than 10,000 followers on Instagram, and from it they assure that they receive new testimonials frequently. While medical services try to improve the detection of these cases in the emergency room, the conditional release of female nightlife remains in question.

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