Groping is not part of a night out – it is sexual harassment

New campaign by charity Drinkaware, is aiming to tackle the problem of sexual harassment that appears to have become expected behaviour in pubs and clubs.

A survey produced by the charity Drinkaware, found that 72% of 18-24 year olds had witnessed sexual harassment in pubs and clubs and that 79% of women said they saw it as the norm and just part of going out. Men are experiencing harassment too, with a quarter surveyed saying they had been groped whilst on a night out. Have a look at the other survey results here.

The subsequent new Drinkaware campaign is encouraging others to intervene if they see this happening by simply asking ‘are you ok?’

The police and Drinkaware are giving advice to people as part of the campaign to only step in if they feel it is safe to do so and to assess the environment before confronting someone.

I find it extremely worrying that unwanted touching and groping happens so often that it’s just accepted as something that can and likely will happen to you at some point during a night out. It’s also likely that many people don’t view touching someone’s bum in a club for example, as sexual harassment; claiming that it should be seen as flattering, or it’s just a bit of fun. But it is sexual harassment and it’s not flattering at all.

In fact, I would go so far to say that no one has ever been successfully seduced by being touched up against their will by a stranger.

I remember experiencing this when I was at university; some men in clubs would think it was perfectly appropriate to grab me or invade my personal space and even moving away or asking them firmly to stop, sometimes didn’t work. Unfortunately, it was often only a male friend stepping in or leaving the club that finally stopped it.

I remember feeling like it was just something I had to put up with when I went out to certain places where you just accepted that there would be men prowling specifically looking for a ‘hook-up’.

What worries me in hindsight, is the possibility that some of the men who have the mind-set that groping a stranger on a night out is acceptable, could also be the ones who end up deliberately looking for drunk or vulnerable girls to prey on and abuse.

There is training available out there for venues that recognise the importance of training their staff and security on spotting the signs and how to intervene to stop sexual harassment but at the moment, this is not compulsory.

I would like to see more bars, clubs and pubs take more responsibility for the behaviour of their customers; treating any form of sexual harassment in the same way as they would treat someone who was behaving violently or aggressively towards their staff or getting into fights with other customers. It could even be argued that someone who is capable of sexual harassment could also be more likely to behave aggressively in other ways too.

There are certain bars and clubs that I actively avoid because I know I may be more ‘at risk’ from harassment in these places. I shouldn’t have to do that. Showing a no-tolerance policy to sexual harassment in bars and clubs, would show people that it is not a bit of fun or something that we should just put up with, and rightfully shame some perpetrators into stopping.

We hope the Drinkaware campaign will encourage more people to intervene and help those who are assaulted on nights out but feel like much more needs to be done to tackle the issue from the source; teaching people about boundaries, personal space and above all, consent.

Written by Rhiannon Hulse, Safe & Sound’s Marketing and Development Manager

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