This summer that cried out for normalcy, socialization and the definitive deconfinement of body and mind, a shadow has passed through the areas of nightlife. First there was the fear of chemical submission practices through the introduction of substances in drinks (which led entertainment venues to modify some of their practices preventively)_and then the punctures with syringes that could also have the intention of inoculation of drugs that leave the victims in conditions of vulnerability. In the first of the cases, doubts were raised about the extent to which cases of sexual abuse using the victim’s state of intoxication really responded to these new practices of chemical submission, if the presence of this type of substance could really be traced or if the cases indicated really responded to alcohol poisoning, in many cases with the little concealed intention of blaming the complainants. The debate itself was toxic: under any circumstance, whether through the influence of alcohol or any other drug, an attack on the sexual freedom of a person who is not in a position to assert their will is equally abhorrent. As sexual abuse under current legislation, as sexual assault when, in a modification of the criminal type opportunely introduced in what is known as the law of theolo yes it is yes, this overcomes the obstacles for its approval in Congress.
Now there will also be those who will relativize the wave of fear, prevention and justifiable indignation that has caused the trickle of cases in which young women report having been punctured in nightclubs, many of them with symptoms after a few moments of being dazed or disoriented. And too many times the reported cases have been treated with indifference. The spokesman for the nightlife venues in Andalusia defined the phenomenon as the result of the actions of “some funny people who have now taken to DJing to scare people or annoy a girl’s night.” With this rhetoric, the risk of frivolizing some of the cases as hooliganism unleashed by copycat phenomena is just around the corner. And no, the evidence, as we explain in these pages, that many women have had to redouble (even more than they are usually forced to do) precautionary and self-protective measures, to modify their leisure habits or, simply, leaving home with even more fear, should make it clear that, whatever the real dimension of these practices, or the specific intention of those who commit them, they are directly assaulting women’s freedoms.
It should not be them (because it is clear that gender-based violence is what we are talking about, with all the criminal aggravations currently applicable, that perhaps in this case there are courts) who modify their behavior. It is the nightclubs that must improve their practices of immediate attention to victims and identification of those responsible and the administrations that offer immediate and empathetic attention (especially given the risk of disease transmission and the speed with which evidence of a possible intoxication fade). But it is above all the mentalities that must change or, at least, be exposed. Those of those who practice or exonerate intimidation (such as some political forces perched on a wave of reaction against feminism that have stood out in their rejection of the criminalization of verbal harassment of women, formerly known as compliments) are co-responsible for perpetuating a climate that it ends up making the streets, the night, any space, more safe to walk on by some than by others.