Gender-based violence, including reports of spiking: AMOSSHE statement and response

02 November 2021 09:49 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Media coverage in recent months has highlighted appalling incidents of violence against women and girls in our society. Most recently, reports of drink spiking and spiking by injection, particularly but not exclusively targeting women, have been circulating. Student Services professionals, in partnership with colleagues in universities and in partner organisations, have a remit to support students affected by spiking and gender-based violence and, as far as possible, to take steps to prevent these behaviours happening, through education, awareness-raising and robust responses to incidents. As a professional association for Student Services leaders and practitioners, AMOSSHE is committed to providing our members with the resources, information and support they need to help them carry out this work.

Members are encouraged to discuss responses to reports of spiking with their local Gender-Based Violence / Violence Against Women and Girls and/or Community Safety partnerships.

When developing statements in response to reports of spiking, AMOSSHE encourages our members to consider the following key points:

  • Spiking or other forms of intentionally drugging individuals is a serious criminal offence.
  • Anyone who has been affected is not to blame for being spiked. The fault lies solely with the perpetrator. We recognise that anyone can be a victim of spiking.
  • In emergency situations (for example concern about immediate safety or the need for urgent medical attention), anyone concerned should call 999.
  • If students need support following an incident or have been affected by gender-based violence in any form, they can contact their university's Student Services teams or Students' Union for information on how to report or receive support.
  • Messages encouraging student safety and risk minimisation (for example, how to recognise a drink that has been spiked) are helpful but should be conveyed in a way that does not reinforce victim-blaming sentiments.

A significant amount of work is being delivered in universities across the UK in collaboration with a wide range of local and national partners to tackle gender-based violence. This includes awareness raising campaigns, training on consent and tackling sexual violence, developing robust reporting pathways, bystander intervention programmes, and training staff to respond effectively and sensitively to reports of gender-based violence. AMOSSHE will continue to support and enhance this work by providing resources and knowledge-sharing opportunities, and through continuing to influence discussions about gender-based violence and student safety on behalf of our membership. Our upcoming professional development event about healthy lifestyles will include a focus on topics including consent and respectful relationships.

AMOSSHE will continue to work collaboratively with other sector organisations to support our members to develop strategies and to share good practice based on sector guidance, including that issued by Universities UK (Changing the Culture).

Jill Stevenson, AMOSSHE Chair, said: "AMOSSHE is deeply concerned to read recent reports in the media of drink spiking and spiking by injection. Everyone has the right to socialise and attend night-time venues without being at risk of spiking or other forms of assault. We are clear that victims of spiking are not to blame. AMOSSHE will continue to work with our members and sector partners to prevent and tackle spiking and gender-based violence in higher education, and to support members of our communities who are affected."

AMOSSHE, The Student Services Organisation is a UK non-profit professional association. Company registration number 4778650.
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