(Marseille) About 1,100 people have been the target of stings since the start of the year in France, a phenomenon which has grown enough in the country to cause concern, especially with the resumption of summer festivals.
One evening in May when the weather was already very hot in Marseille, Diane*, 21, went out to “release the pressure”, like thousands of other students. She remembers with pleasure the aperitif at the beach with her friends.
Bites weren’t a concern. “I’m always attentive to my glass, I know that something can be poured into it for the purpose of chemical submission. But the bites, for me, were borderline urban legends. »
A few hours later, the party continued in the disco.
There were really a lot of people. I was laughing with strangers, in a hallway where there wasn’t enough room to move around, and that’s when I felt it.
Diane, victim of a syringe attack
An unpleasant, pinching sensation in the arm, painful, but not enough to worry about. “I was in the evening, a little isolated from my friends because I was going to the toilet. It was there that I realized what had just happened to me. In the bathroom mirror, Diane noticed that her arm was slightly bloody.
Crossed in the hallway, a friend noticed like her the blood on the arm, then a circular trace, a red halo quickly interpreted as that of a sting. “It was fresh. And it was getting harder and harder to breathe. And when my friend asked me if I was okay, I ended up saying no, I wasn’t. Her heart was pounding, dizziness, nausea.
However, Diane is far from being a unique case. There have been hundreds of them in France in recent months.
Attacks are rapid and the perpetrators very rarely identified. The victims are apparently chosen at random, rather in a festive setting. A report by the Anti-Narcotics Office (OFAST), the national police agency responsible for coordinating action against drug trafficking in France, cited, at the end of June (latest data available), “around 850 facts reported” and almost as many of complaints lodged in the territory. A fact sometimes including several acts, it is nearly 1100 people, about as many women as men, who have been listed. And a common thread exists between all these testimonies: no trace of drugs could be found among the victims. The motivations of the attackers remain unclear to say the least.
After her sting, Diane was quickly rushed to hospital. The symptoms there will disappear as quickly as they appeared. The small wound was identified as coming from a syringe, but after some examinations, the doctors decided that she was fine. A preventive antiviral treatment against HIV was prescribed to him, as well as toxicological and viral examinations to find out the origin of the symptoms and to ensure that no harmful product had been injected.
Everything was negative. It was both reassuring, because I was fine, but it was also distressing, because I didn’t understand what had just happened to me.
When, the next day, she went to the police station to lodge a complaint, the same kind of incomprehension reigned. “The police officer did not really know how to register my complaint. Me, I think it’s an armed robbery, and inevitably, I tell myself that there was bad intention on the part of my attacker. I thought of a sexual assault. »
Festival-goers under tension
The phenomenon creates concern in this particularly festive period. Culture Minister Rima Abdul Malak broached the subject during a visit to the Hellfest festival on June 25, saying it was “a psychosis more than a real phenomenon”, and a challenge launched on social networks could be the origin of the whole affair.
Nevertheless, festival-goers are on their guard. In Marseille, a destination of attraction for partygoers, bites fuel discussions in the evening. “My friends and I have got into the habit of watching our drinks to make sure we don’t get high. There, it’s even worse, I look over my shoulder sometimes, ”says Jean Allard, a 20-year-old athlete, not reassured by the words of the authorities.
Moreover, in Marseille, the Safer system set up during the largest festival in the city of southern France to limit the risk of sexual and gender-based violence, in June, would not have been infallible. Even if no case of sting has officially been recorded by the authorities, a young girl testified on France 3 television to have been the victim of one of these mysterious attacks.
“Zero risk unfortunately does not exist, but we are here to reduce them”, indicated to The Press Marc Brielles, responsible for the Safer system.
* Fictitious first name to protect anonymity