A culture of heavy drinking has led to sexual molestation becoming the norm on a night out for young women – and they feel they have to put up with it, an academic report warns. In a disturbing insight into how 18 to 24-year-olds behave on a night out, a survey has found one in three girls received inappropriate or unwanted physical attention or groping, but few were surprised. Academics said that excessive consumption of alcohol has turned a lot of clubs into a ‘permissive social arena’.
The findings are revealed in a report for the charity Drinkaware, which is urging women to stop tolerating behaviour which would be considered unacceptable when sober. Researchers found that 31 per cent of young women said they were surprised by it. In addition, more than a quarter (27 per cent) have put up with inappropriate sexual comments or abuse on a drunken night out. Young men are not exempt – with one in ten saying they had to deal with unwanted physical attention or groping.
Researchers who interviewed and surveyed just over 2,000 young people pointed to a culture of heavy drinking, in which large amounts of alcohol are consumed before youngsters even leave the house. Many young people believe they cannot venture out to bars at night unless they have been drinking first.
The report warns: “The drunken night out provides an arena within which much more extreme social interactions are permitted. A lack of clear boundaries means that people may easily be caught up in interactions that go further than they wish – or in which they do not wish to participate at all. In particular, problems can arise around sexual behaviour, with molestation appearing to be a common and, to some extent, accepted part of a drunken night out.
“Low-level sexual molestation, in particular, appears to be becoming a norm. Young women reported putting up with it as part of the culture of drunken nights out yet also say they find it unpleasant. Rebuffed sexual advances can also lead to violence; young men who are rebuffed in an approach are particularly likely to attack male friends of the woman who rebuffed them or more generally start looking for a fight. The researchers found alcohol is commonly being consumed just to get drunk, rather than for pleasure, as youngsters work out the cheapest way of becoming inebriated.
According to a police spokesman, the consequences of excessive drinking are witnessed across the country in the hospitals and police stations of our towns and cities every week.”