Archive for December 2006

Interview with Kate Monaghan

December 15, 2006

Kate MonaghanMs Kate Monaghan is the Education and Welfare Officer of Cardiff University Students’
Union. As part of her duty, she is involved in some efforts to dissuade female students in
Cardiff from binge drinking. In this interview, she gave the reasons, implications and solutions to the problem of binge drinking among women. She spoke to CASMIR IGBOKWE. Excerpts:

Q: Binge drinking among women in
Cardiff is on the increase now. Why do you think this is so?

A: I think a lot of people see it as a social opportunity. Students, in particular, see the university as not just about studying but going out to drink as well. Some of these women are also trying to assert their equality with men. If they are moving with a group of men, they try to match them in terms of how they drink. But it’s more of a way of socialising. If you don’t get drunk at the weekend, then you haven’t done anything. It’s part of the culture. To relax, you have to drink. If you go out, you have to drink to have a good time. That is the culture at the moment. 

Besides, some of these women are drinking more because they don’t realise what constitutes binge drinking. Six units of alcohol are considered binge drinking. But that, to them, doesn’t seem that much for a whole night out. So, I think they are completely unaware.

Q: But they are adults and they are supposed to know when to stop drinking? 

A: Yea. I suppose once you get to your limit, then you know it. But quite often, that’s far away from what is considered binge drinking. I think education is quite important in preventing people from doing it.

Q: How serious is this issue among female students in
Cardiff?
 

A: I think it’s quite a big issue especially when you look at things like drink spiking. A lot of drink spiking happens when women are under the influence of alcohol, such that you cannot distinguish whether they are just drunk or that something has been put in their drink.

Q: What do you think are the implications of binge drinking among women? 

A: We have a long-term health issues – liver problem and that kind of thing. Addiction is quite a big problem too. If you go to the City Centre at the weekend, alcohol-related violence is something that happens more frequently now. 

Q: Can you proffer some solutions to this problem? 

A: I suppose education is the most important thing, trying to tell people what constitutes drinking safely. Also, women should be made to realise that there are other ways to relax. At the students level, we did a safety campaign last week which focused on drink spiking and related issues. In terms of drinking less, we have a health campaign next February, which will focus on alcohol and smoking. So, the students’ union is aware of this problem and it’s something we are trying to tackle.

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Women and binge drinking in Cardiff

December 15, 2006

 As women soak themselves more in alcohol, anti-social behaviour rises in Cardiff

It was about midnight. Sandra (not real name) apparently thought she was on her bed. Her phone rang intermittently in her bag. Even, the mini skirt she wore that night made her sitting position an eyesore. Passersby hissed. But, a gentleman pulled up by her side on theCathays
Bridge where she was lying, and stopped. “Yes, I know you,” the girl mumbled.

The man raised her up and took her down the bridge. He asked her where she lived. “I want to go,” she drawled.  “Where?” he repeated. “Ah! My boyfriend,” came the answer. Frustrated, the man left her. Her phone rang again. This time, she picked it. “Smith! Smith! Smith!” was all she shouted as she staggered exactly to nowhere.

Binge drinking. That was Sandra’s problem. And that is the major problem currently confronting women in Cardiff. A recent survey of global alcohol consumption found that women in the UK are the worst binge drinkers in the world. THE INDEPENDENT quoted the report as classifying one in three 17-to 30-year-olds as “a heavy drinker, bingeing on four or more drinks in one session at least once a fortnight.”

In Cardiff, the problem is more common with university students. According to the Education and Welfare Officer of Cardiff University Students’ Union, Ms Kate Monaghan, the reason is that many people see it as a social opportunity. She explains, “If you don’t get drunk at the weekend, then you haven’t done anything. To relax, you have to drink. That is the culture at the moment.”

She says some of these women drink more because they don’t realise what constitutes binge drinking. “Six units of alcohol are considered binge drinking. But to them, that is not much for a whole night,” Monaghan emphasises.

The Students Advice Centre Manager of Cardiff University, Mrs. Maria Al-Haddad, says it saddens her that it’s the British that do it more than any other European country. She notes that these women don’t really realise what they are doing to their bodies health-wise.

She adds, “ These women leave themselves wide open for attack. Sometimes, they go out in a group. But some of them try to go home alone, thereby exposing themselves to danger. You have seen the example of some women being murdered in another part of the UK.”

Besides, excessive consumption of alcohol has pushed more women into violence. The BBC recently reported that one Nadia, a 25-year-old mother of one, lost her eye when a drunk woman threw a pint glass at her.

The solution to this problem, Monaghan notes, is education. “Women should be made to realise that there are other ways to relax. At the students level, we did a safety campaign last week which focused on drink spiking and related issues. In terms of drinking less, we have a health campaign next February, which will focus on alcohol and smoking,” she states. 

Links:<a href= “http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/health_medical/article191905.ece”><a href= “http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/magazine/6213686.stm”><a href= “http://business.guardian.co.uk/0,329644238-108725,00.html”><a href= “http://www.welsh-whisky.co.uk”><a href= “http://www.womensaid.org.uk”>

For details of interview with Kate Monaghan, see here.