How ‘Drink Spiking’ is Impacting British Asian Women

Drink spiking is on the rise in UK nightclubs. DESIblitz explores its impact and speaks to three British Asian women about their experiences.

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"I genuinely felt like I was going to die"

The reopening of clubs and pubs in the UK following multiple lockdowns due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has led to a rise in reports of drink spiking.

As well as pills being unknowingly placed into drinks, there has also been an increased number of people being spiked through injection.

Many young women across the UK have reported that they have been spiked with an injection.

Police in England is now saying incidents at house parties are currently their biggest concern.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, the demand for drugs has increased and have become more accessible via online ordering.

People have turned to social media to source drugs such as sedatives like benzodiazepines.

The spiking of drinks occurs when alcohol or drugs are deliberately added to someone’s drink without their knowledge.

DESIblitz explores this growing issue and speaks to three British Asian women who have experienced being spiked.

Side Effects of Drink Spiking

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Victims of drink spiking can be severely affected. They may lose consciousness and not know what is happening.

Substances associated with drink spiking, such as benzodiazepines, are often sedatives that can lead to drowsiness, blurred vision and slurred speech.

As the side effects of such drugs are similar to the intoxication of alcohol, victims are often disregarded as drunk rather than drugged.

DESIblitz exclusively chats to British Asian women about their experience with spiking.

Jyoti Singh

Jyoti Singh* was spiked at a house party.

Jyoti said: “I was visiting a friend in Sheffield when the whole thing happened.

“We ended up going to a house party of someone that my friend knew.

“I didn’t know anyone there apart from my friend so I wasn’t having much fun because she was mingling with others and I felt a bit left out.

“So, I kind of chatted a bit to strangers but mainly kept to myself and waited for my friend so that we could leave.

“I couldn’t just leave the party because I was visiting my friend and I was in a new city that I knew nothing about.

“I went to the kitchen where this guy was pouring drinks for everyone which I remember thinking was weird.

“But I didn’t pay much attention and I was annoyed at my friend for basically ditching me so I grabbed a drink and kind of let loose.

“I ended up being sick in a taxi which was really embarrassing and at the time, I just blamed it on the fact I had too much to drink.

“The next day, I remember waking up with a really bad headache and my stomach felt really tight.

“On the train back home, I barely stayed awake and I would catch myself falling asleep.

“A day or two after, I made an appointment where I was essentially told I’d been spiked.

“I was also told that I should make an appointment to get tested for an STI just in case.

“I remember feeling disgusted mainly at myself for letting things get out of control but now I realise it wasn’t my fault and I didn’t do anything to deserve that.

“I come from a Sikh family and whilst I’m not very religious, my parents are, so telling them about what happened didn’t feel like a choice.

“Even now, I’ve only told a few friends because I don’t want to be judged for what happened.

“I know what happened wasn’t my fault but I know some wouldn’t see it like that.

“Victim-blaming is real and I think the South Asian community is perfect at doing it. They always find a way to blame you.”

Nadia Malik

Nadia Malik* was spiked in 2019 after visiting her university friends in Cardiff.

Nadia said: “We went on a night out to a club called Pryzm.

“Although I was slightly tipsy by the time we entered the club, I still remember being there and dancing with my friends at the start.

“I think it took about 45 minutes or so before I started to blackout and the last thing I remember is ordering a drink from the bar and a guy trying to grab my waist and talk to me.

“I woke up around 7 hours later completely naked in a stranger’s home.”

“I’ve had drunken one night stands before but never to the point where I didn’t remember meeting the person or anything leading up to it.

“But he seemed nice and was also a student so I assumed everything was consensual.

“He got me an uber and I went back to my friends where I was told that I had been a mess that night and had done some things that were pretty uncharacteristic of me.

“My friend told me that they had continuously tried to stop me but I was completely ‘out of it’.

“They even supposedly started a fight with the guy I left with because I wasn’t in the right state of mind but we refused to listen.

“Either way, I still just assumed that it was my own fault and I had way too much to drink, even though I checked my bank account and hadn’t spent that much on drinks.”

Nadia added: “It wasn’t till around 12 hours later when I was on the train back home and started to feel really ill that I felt like something was wrong.

“I never really get hungover but at that moment I genuinely felt like I was going to die because I felt so ill.

“I got home and went straight to bed but the next morning I wasn’t feeling any better and had work in the afternoon so I called my GP.

“He asked me to come in for some tests as I have other health issues and wanted to make sure it was nothing to do with them.

“I took him through what happened which is when he first suggested the possibility of me having been spiked.

“Although I was pretty reluctant that I had been spiked I agreed to do some blood tests.

“I started to feel better later that day anyway and by the next day, I was completely fine.

“Two days after my blood test results came back, my GP called me to tell me I had been spiked. They found traces of ketamine.

“He discussed my options with me, e.g. calling the police and telling the club, but I just wanted to forget the night ever happened so left it.

“It took me a long time to realise and admit to myself what had actually happened and the severity of it, but by that point, it was over a year later.

“I never involved the police or anyone official and even to this day, very few people know.”

Alcohol Taboo

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With a lack of official statistics and a culture that makes victims feel there is no point in telling anyone, drink spiking is a crime that continues to go unpunished.

For British Asian women, the consequences of talking about such issues are immense therefore, many Desi women often downplay their experiences.

Nadia said: “As a Desi girl, I couldn’t really afford to call the police considering I come from a Muslim family and something like this would have caused ‘shame’ if it came out in my community.”

Yasmin Chowdhury* suspects she was spiked during her first year at university.

Yasmin said: “I’m convinced that I was spiked during my first few weeks at university.

“I was in a group of 5 girls at a club and we were together for the majority of the night.

“At one point, I went to get some drinks and waited at the bar. This random guy approached me and we started talking.

“Obviously we were in a club so it was packed and he huddled over the bar whilst I waited for the drinks.

“I chatted to him for a while before I went back to my friends. I don’t remember seeing him again but I blacked out soon after returning to my group.

“I remember waking up the next day at my friend’s flat who told me she literally had to carry me home which was strange because I never get blackout drunk and I know my limits.

“A few days later, I felt really ill and I had never felt pain like that before.”

“My leg was kind of numb and I had no energy at all which made me miss a few lectures.

“After around a week, I started getting better but I never consulted anyone because I just assumed it was Fresher’s flu or that I must have had some kind of allergic reaction to something.

“I also never told any of my family members because none of them drinks.

“It’s only now that I’m learning more about spiking with recent news and reports and putting two and two together.”

Why do People Spike Drinks?

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People spike drinks for a variety of reasons but the main motives tend to be to sexually assault others or to steal from them.

Drink spiking is a horrifying trend and can lead to victims suffering psychological effects after being spiked, especially if they are also assaulted.

Drink spiking is often associated with sexual assault and theft.

However, many spike drinks as it is regarded as entertainment and an attempt to get others to loosen up.

A 2021 survey conducted by Anglia Ruskin University revealed that only 59% of the respondents knew what to do if their friend’s drink was spiked.

In another survey, that was male-only, 91% of participants were not aware of any support available for victims of drink spiking.

Therefore, it is clear that more needs to be done to ensure people are aware of the support that is available to them if their drink is spiked, or how to help a friend on a night out.

Reporting suspected drink spiking to a venue and the police are ways to ensure enough steps are being taken to keep people safe.

Girls Night In Campaign

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Amid high tensions regarding the safety of women in the UK, the campaign Girls Night In was launched to raise awareness of the issue.

The campaign was launched by Bristol student Milly Seaford.

Whilst the campaign is a step in the right direction, many young women have questioned how effective it will be in the long term.

Nadia said: “I’m glad that there’s more awareness around spiking and I think the Girls Night In is a great campaign but in all honesty, I feel like things won’t change much.

“If it doesn’t happen in clubs, men will just start targeting us in other places (music festivals, dark streets etc).

“The issue is with men and them thinking they have the rights to our bodies without consent.”

“Even if spiking stops, women still have so many other issues to worry about which is so heartbreaking.

“I think it would be really useful for more women’s only clubs, gyms, cafes etc so that we have at least some form of a safe place.”

A petition which has over 100,000 signatures ‘to make it a legal requirement for nightclubs to thoroughly check each guest on entry’ is currently circulating on social media.

Whilst the petition marks a positive step to addressing the issue of drink spiking and injections in nightclubs, a spokesperson from the Girls Night In campaign said:

“There is an issue with club searching as we feel that marginalised groups may be more targeted in some small circumstances.

“In this case, we want to take inspiration from Queer nightlife clubs where there are armband wearers who look out for people who seem drunk or have taken too many drugs and help them rather than kick them out forcefully.”

Given how many victims feel reluctant to come forward and share their experiences, raising awareness of drink spiking seems like a good place to start.

It is only then that effective strategies can be discussed and implemented to ensure people at clubs and bars can drink without the fear of being spiked.

Ravinder is currently studying BA Hons in Journalism. She has a strong passion for all things fashion, beauty, and lifestyle. She also likes to watch films, read books and travel.

*Names have been changed to preserve anonymity