Wednesday, September 22, 2004


Loss of traditional standards has its price

"The number of women who are seeking treatment at hospital casualty units after being injured in drunken catfights is rising sharply, consultants warn. Late-night brawls between women who have been binge-drinking are resulting in horrific injuries such as facial wounds caused by "glassing", broken jaws and bleeding scalps, where girls have had their hair pulled out.

Hospital staff, already under pressure from the rising numbers of emergency admissions, say that they are struggling to cope with a "disturbing" increase in the number of intoxicated women requiring treatment. In some areas, the number of admissions has tripled in five years.

Don MacKechnie, the chairman of the British Medical Association's accident and emergency committee and a consultant at Rochdale Infirmary in Lancashire, said that casualty units were being inundated with injured young women, particularly at weekends. "There has certainly been a big increase and some of the fights are really vicious," he said. "It is not just cuts and grazes, but fractured hands as a result of them punching other people, and broken cheekbones."

Amjid Muhammed, a consultant at Calderdale Royal Infirmary in Halifax, West Yorkshire, said that about 45 of the 300 patients seen in accident and emergency over a typical weekend were women wounded in drunken brawls. Five years ago, the typical figure was less than 15. He blamed the three-fold rise on the increasing tendency of groups of young women to binge-drink. "There are women who are intoxicated who are hurting themselves by toppling over or having an accident. Then there are women who are injured in fights. It used to be men but now women are turning up in this state - and even worse than the men in some cases," he said.

Mr Muhammed said that one worrying new trend was "glassing" - women hitting other females with glasses or bottles. "That was something we never used to see, but I have seen a few cases recently," he said. "It causes quite serious injuries - a facial glassing can be very nasty.".....

The rising tide of female violence has been blamed on the growing "ladette" drinking culture, where women ape the worst excesses of loutish male behaviour. Recent Government statistics have revealed that almost a third of 18 to 24-year-old women binge drink.....

Lt Col Andrew Cope, a consultant at Peterborough District Hospital, said that he was dealing with a rising number of women injured in drunken fights. "We tend to have the stereotypical image of the male alcoholic, but women are now involved too," he said. "We have seen women hitting each other with glasses and bottles. The trouble is mainly at weekends and bank holidays, when people have too much to drink and get out of control."....

A study by the Schools Health Education Unit in Exeter published last month found that teenage girls were now drinking more alcohol than boys. Research by Lancaster University published this month will show that children as young as 13 are displaying such "ladette behaviour". Teachers interviewed in the study said that girls were drinking at earlier ages and had become aggressively assertive and arrogant.

One teacher from a secondary school in the north of England said: "Their life is about going out and drinking, and it starts very early. I was shocked when I found out that some of the 13- and 14-year-olds quite regularly go out drinking at the weekend." A pupil at the school described girls in her class as "fighting a lot, punching each other and pushing, swearing and spitting on each other. You don't go near them because they will batter you, just like a lad"."

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"No sooner had sociologists discovered what they dubbed female alternative aggression -- the unpleasant, but one would think obvious fact that pubertal girls snub, exclude and spread vicious rumors about one other -- than these findings were made inconsequential by another shocker: that when it comes to plain, old-fashioned physical brutality, girls are quickly catching up (and in some instances have caught up) with boys."

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