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Female solidarity and safety on nights out

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All you ever hear when you’re heading off to university from parents and friends is, “You’ll have the time of your life; I did!”

But, the reality is that when you first get to university you’re thrown in with a bunch of people you don’t know, and that can actually feel pretty lonely - even scary. Of course, one of the main elements of university life is the large consumption of alcohol.

Credit: Pixabay

While university is exciting, students must be aware of the dangers they could face, especially on a night out in a city they don’t know so well. 

The sad reality is that women are vulnerable on nights out. Many of us will always keep hold of our drinks wherever we are - it has become a natural thing not to put it down for fear of it being tampered with. In an interview with the BBC last year, one female student explained how “getting groped is just part of a normal night out”. It’s just one of the hundreds of stories that emerge every year.

We spoke to some female students to ask them about how they view their own safety on a night out, and whether they think that their gender has a specific role to play in this.

Flora, University of York, 20

“I’ve always been told to make sure that I’m walked home, or that girls need to stick with girls because it’s dangerous to be alone at night as a woman. Even though I’ve heard that statistically, men are more likely to get attacked whilst walking home alone at night, I still have the feeling of fear and vulnerability embedded if I’m alone late at night and my awareness has been dulled a bit by drinking.”

Josephine, University of Birmingham, 22

“A year ago, someone put drugs in my drink on a night out and I started getting a bit too keen on things and not being myself. My girlfriends stayed by my side and ensured I got home safely. I now not only ensure that I eat well before going and make sure I pace myself, but I also ask bartenders to make drinks in front of me as well as keep my drink with me at all times... forever grateful to my girlfriends that night.”

Paige, University of York, 20

“I feel vulnerable - probably because I’ve been told to be worried. Most of the people I’ve met walking home both at uni and in Newcastle have been rowdy albeit perfectly polite and unthreatening, but I do feel worried regardless if people come up to me, if I walk a fairly unlit/hidden way.”

Ellie, University of Birmingham, 20

“At my university we have a Facebook page for students where girls are writing every day warning other girls not to walk alone because one of their friends was harassed, followed, etc., on the way back from a night out. There’s a definite fear that surrounds the concept of girls walking home alone because they’re more vulnerable I guess.”

Author Kayleen Schaefer released a book earlier this year entitled, Text Me When You Get Home; The Evolution and Triumph of Modern Female Friendship. The book looks at the importance of female ‘safety’ and ‘solidarity’. The book has been described as a ‘mix of historical research, the author's own personal experience, and conversations about friendships with women across the country’.

Obviously not every man you encounter on a night out is a threat, however, the reality is that some are. But this idea of solidarity, documented in Kayleen Schaefer's book, encourages girls to look out for each other, ensuring that everyone gets home safely.

Find out more about drinks spiking on this NHS page and some advice on staying safe while drinking on this drinkaware page.

And don't forget, in an emergency always dial 999.

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