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Sexual Violence And The Night Time Economy

The topic of sexual violence and assault became particularly poignant for me whilst deciding what to write my final year dissertation on. My lecturers had told us to try and “write about something you’re passionate about”. After an aimless conversation with my Dad about how often sexual assault occurs within nightclubs and bars, I soon noticed the release of adrenaline whilst explaining how it was more than common for multiple men to grope my friends and me whilst walking through the crowd to the bar. The shock that came over his face as I relayed stories of past incidents made me wonder how this information came as news to him. This conversation marked the start of my initial research and I soon finalised the title as an exploration into sexual violence within the night-time economy. This particular context includes entertainment facilities open from 6pm and continues into the early hours of the morning. These circumstances infer a differing nature to incidents of sexual assault. Alcohol-fuelled student nights with sports clubs and societies in higher education often act as a breeding ground for this behaviour. Rape culture thrives within these groups with the catalytic factors of peer pressure and hegemonic masculinity. Due to the nature of this context, these incidents are often unreported. Crowded clubs, bad lighting and the ease of just slipping into the background means that perpetrators can commit acts of sexual assault and remain completely anonymous. A lack of overall awareness is also a contributing factor. Many are not aware or refuse to accept that the example of an act of groping somebody’s bottom constitutes a crime, and partnered with the nature of the night-time economy, incidents are not being reported. Something that became apparent to me throughout my research was the issue of victim-blaming. The emphasis of safety and the ‘tips’ that were drilled into me as a young woman included not dressing provocatively and holding my keys in-between my knuckles whilst walking alone. However, this is problematic as we as a society are continuing to focus on self-prevention rather than perpetrator accountability. This aspect of victim-blaming must be combatted through education and focusing our attention towards how we can prevent future incidents and perpetrators. Clubs and bars are beginning to address this through reactive strategies such as the ‘Ask for Angela’ posters which are spread around toilets in the venue offering a way for people to ask for discreet help in leaving a situation that may grow into something threatening. However, it is clear from the available literature I studied whilst conducting my research that we must revoke the overall condonement of sexual violence and this can start with education. It is very important that some universities have started to address the issue of sexual violence through compulsory consent workshops so that there are no excuses as to why the issue still protrudes within the student population. Whilst these measures are not exhaustive, it is important that we continue to seek change so that we can live in a world where sexual violence is not just a factor of life that we have to accept.

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