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Incidents of drink spiking are rapidly increasing in Ireland — how are we supposed to feel safe?


By Sarah Gill
30th Mar 2023

Unsplash

Incidents of drink spiking are rapidly increasing in Ireland — how are we supposed to feel safe?

New research shows that we’re more aware of drink spiking than ever before, but how can we address the issue head on and give ourselves some peace of mind in the process?

It will come as a surprise to precisely no one that to exist as a woman is to feel a twinge of worry every time you enter into the public arena. Whether that’s an innate feeling we’re born with, or one that has been fostered in each of us over the years as we are repeatedly warned to remain vigilant, the fact of the matter is that fear is commonplace.

An issue that’s been rapidly becoming endemic across Ireland is that of drink spiking, and new statistics show just how prevalent this form of gender-based violence really is. Data collected by Ireland’s first drink spiking detection test, CYD Check Your Drink, shows that 54% of the Irish population are more afraid of being spiked now than they were five years ago.

According to the survey, 57% of respondents know someone who has been spiked in the past, while nearly 19% of respondents self-reported being spiked themselves. These finding come just two months after figures were presented in the Dáil by acting Minister for Justice Simon Harris that show that there were 106 incidents of reported drink spiking in 2022, in comparison to just 12 reports in 2020.

Minister Harris said the act of spiking a person through drink or injection was a “very serious offence” and “poisoning”, which can result in a three-year prison term. Speaking a year previously on the same topic, Senator Fiona O’Loughlin said on the floor of the Seanad: “Spiking is a particularly insidious act, and it mainly targets young and sometimes vulnerable women and girls. We need a zero-tolerance policy in relation to needle spiking. This is gender-based violence, and as is so often the case, the focus is on the actions of the victim.”

So, how can we feel safe?

On the one year anniversary of Aisling Murphy’s death, the Director of the National Women’s Council, Orla O’Connor, said: “We must educate our children about the misogyny that underlies male violence against women. There is a gap left by our education system, and dangerous and harmful messages like Andrew Tate’s are filling it. The consequences of this for women’s safety are plain to see.”

Governmental action is required in order to eliminate rampant misogyny, to recognise it as the hate crime that it is. Adequate street lighting, and real-time, clear CCTV are crucial to help women feel safe when going about their daily lives without feeling the burden of falling victim to a grusome act weighing down on our shoulders.

Commenting on the research collected by CYD, Owen McKeon, CEO of Phrassa, CYD said: “Our research clearly shows that drink spiking is a pervasive problem in Ireland, and it’s time we took action. We are extremely proud to offer a simple and effective solution that can help people protect themselves and prevent becoming victims. It’s our hope that Check Your Drink’s self-test kits will become a standard part of any night out, ensuring that everyone can enjoy a safe and positive social experience.”

CYD Check Your Drink are helping to alleviate fears of drink spiking with self-testing kits that can indicate the presence of the drugs Ketamine and GHB. Promising to help “protect, control and maintain the safety of our social life for people in Ireland”, these CYD testing kits only require one drop of your drink to see if it’s been spiked.

According to CYD, symptoms of spiking can take effect within 15-30mins, and can last for several hours. These symptoms may still be felt after a night’s sleep, and although each drug can have various symptoms, they can usually include lowered inhibitions, blurred vision, disorientation, nausia, memory loss, and unconsciousness.

One CYD Check Your Drink testing pack of five cost €4.99 and can be purchased from many pharmacies including Boots, Hickey’s, McCabe’s, and Allcare Pharmacy. As women, we should not need to take these steps in order to feel safe while socialising, but businesses like this help to give us that little bit of peace of mind, which at the end of the day, is worth its weight in gold.

Feature image via Kelsey Chance on Unsplash.