Thousands take to the streets against rise in reported spikings

‘We shouldn’t have to be here we just want safety, it’s the bare minimum’

TW: Sexual Assualt and Rape

On Wednesday night protesters gathered in St Peter’s Square in solidarity with the clubbing boycott taking place across the country.

Organisers say there were “thousands” in attendance, it comes following an increase in reported spiking in Manchester and around the UK in recent weeks.

Starting in St Peter’s Square, protesters marched down Oxford Road and congregated outside Home cinema in Deansgate. 

Here, protesters heard from the organisers End Spiking Now and Girls Night in Manchester as well as activists from Resist Rape Culture and Stand Up to Racism Manchester. Speakers also included political representatives from Manchester City Council, Manchester People’s Assembly and the co-chair of Manchester Labour Students. 

Later, people were invited to share moving testimonials of their personal experiences with spiking, sexual assault and rape culture. 

Speakers rejected the “centring of victim-blaming” in the debate on spiking and advocated for “centring the predators doing the spiking and the bystanders doing nothing to stop it”, instead. Many also made clear they “don’t believe the answer is more police and security powers as that will inevitably adversely affect people of colour”.

“Spiking is never the fault of the victim,” said co-chair of Manchester Labour Students.  “The fault is always with those who spike”.

Andy Burnham joined the protest and said: “This one is on us: men, lads, boys. That might mean calling out mates for their behaviour or it might mean changing our own behaviour.”

“This issue is not new,” said Karen from Manchester people’s assembly and Women’s Officer for Greater Manchester Mental Health. “This wrecks lives… it is deadly serious”.

A representative from Stand Up to Racism Manchester, speaking on her experience as a black woman said: “When we get attacked no one says our names” and  “we have to fight to be taken seriously”.

“Any movement that argues for liberation must be unfaltering in its anti-racist beliefs” said Lucy from End Spiking Now, one of the lead organisers.

UoM student Ruby said: “We are not as safe as we are careful…we are only as safe as the men around us allow us to be”.

The campaigners are demanding increased support for victims of spiking both in the venues where it occurs and from healthcare services. This includes having trained staff, on-call medics and designated areas where victims can recover. Their demands also include a zero-tolerance policy for anyone caught spiking, to take complaints seriously and for venues with multiple instances of spiking to lose their licences. 

They are urging supporters to sign an open letter to Greater Manchester Combined Authority and local councillors demanding action be taken.

If you or someone you know has been affected by this story, please head to Drinkaware for more information on drink spiking. You can call Victim Support on 08 08 16 89 111 or find help via their website

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