Sexual harassment in Lancaster nightclubs at forefront of student backlash
Lancaster students call out Glow Nightclub over mounting sexual violence incidents
Sexual harassment in Lancaster nightclubs has been at the forefront of student backlash recently. The first post appeared on Lancfessions, the anonymous confessions Facebook group, on February 23rd and has catalysed a student discussion about sexual harassment in Lancaster’s nightclubs.
Students are opening up about their experiences, exposing the ‘dark figure’ of sexual harassment cases, and asking nightclubs what they will be doing to help put an end to it.
At the beginning of writing, Glow Nightclub, based in Lancaster city centre, has been named over any other Lancaster nightclub as a hub for sexual harassment, identified by a large number of posts on the Lancfessions page. The Tab Lancaster spoke to Glow Nightclub Management about the social media backlash.
GLOW stated: “Any incidents that happen inside our venue get taken very seriously and are dealt with immediately and reported via the correct procedures. […] We want more people to speak out if they feel they have been sexually assaulted in any way inside our venue as we have procedures in place to make that individual feel safe and taken seriously.
“The problem with posting on a social media page, which allows anybody to post anything at [any time], is this won’t be dealt with. […] Posting serious comments on a Facebook page that allows […] the comment below, which I have recently seen posted, is not the way to go about it.”
But what about the victims who “feel they have been sexually assaulted” and don’t feel comfortable enough to report it to staff?
A Geography student from Lonsdale college told The Tab about her experience at Glow Nightclub: “We started talking to this boy from Cheltenham in the smoking area and he seemed nice – he even offered us champagne. But when my friends went to the toilet, he followed me downstairs and whispered in my ear, ‘Does this mean we’re going to have sex now?’ I ran upstairs quickly to get away.
“Later, I went upstairs and he followed me again, without me realising. Another man noticed and approached me to make sure I was okay but, even though there was a bouncer right next to the same man, he never said anything to warn me that a stranger had followed me to the toilets.”
A first-year County College student said: “I was in a booth with a couple lads and three girls. One of the girls started pouring me drinks and moving closer to me. I very drunk and only realised what was happening when I felt her hand on my leg. I moved her hand off and expressed that I wasn’t interested but she kept doing it until she grabbed my crotch and wouldn’t let go.
“If I tried to report it, I’d get laughed at. As a man, there is a stereotype that we constantly seek that sort of attention so there is nothing wrong with people doing that to us. However, I was afraid to even tell my friends because I didn’t think they would take me seriously.
“I don’t go to Glow anymore unless I have people I can stay with. That night made me feel unsafe and isolated.”
When asked about their current schemes in place, Glow Nightclub Management had this to say:
“We are part of and host the Lancaster pub watch meeting monthly with all other venues […] to discuss incidents, banned persons and any other concerns. Our staff are trained on how to deal with these situations, alongside FGH security on site every night. We have a member of our team who operates our camera system of over 30 cameras, offering a full 360 view of each room.
“We have the Ask for Angela scheme in place so if anybody needs help, in a situation which they feel uncomfortable or have reason to believe they have been sexually assaulted they can ask any of our staff if ‘Angela’ is available.”
The Lancaster Tab spoke to one woman who was allegedly sexually assaulted in Glow. She commented on how effective she felt Glow’s strategies are in dealing with sexual assault and harassment.
“At Glow, a man repeatedly harassed me and my friends. He grabbed our boobs and ass and kissed me even when I told him no.
“We started the posts on Lancfessions, kicking off about sexual harassment in clubs and, since then, they’ve started showing the Ask for Angela signs on all the TVs but that’s not going to stop a sexual assault. Nightclubs in the UK have a “proactive victim” mindset, indirectly blaming victims for sexual harassment by making all their measures dependent on the victim sorting out the situation. This doesn’t work and it shifts blame from the club onto victims of sexual violence. It should be nightclub staff who take preventative measures; victims are not responsible for stopping a situation and clubs should never allow a situation like that to arise.”
Despite 32 recorded incidents of violence and sexual offences since October in the Mary St. area where Glow Nightclub is located; Police UK and six claims made to The Tab of sexual harassment and assault in the club itself, Glow Nightclub Management assured me that their strategies have been “very effective, as we have had zero sexual assault cases.”
“It is hard to comment [on why there is a reluctance for victims of sexual harassment and assault in clubs to talk to staff or report incidents] as it could be for a number of reasons. I personally believe that some victims may feel scared, embarrassed and worried on how to handle the situation so maybe they find it easier to keep it to themselves.”