Volume 95, Issue 20

Thursday, October 4, 2001
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Debate rages over Code

Gazette Investigation - The "Movie Night" saga

The Code: know it, love it, obey it

Restaurant rides The Wave of success

Date rape a growing concern

News Briefs

Date rape a growing concern

By Kristina Lundblad
Gazette Staff

Reports of drug-induced date rape are on the rise in London and local authorities want women to be aware of the growing problem.

"There have been more reports to our centre of drug-induced date rape in the last year or two," said Linda Fischer, a social worker with St. Joseph's Health Care Centre London Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Treatment Centre. "This seems to be a trend that is rising – we get one to two reports per month."

"We have not had any [drug-induced date rapes] reported to our department since school started," said University Police Department Constable Wendy McGowan, though she said they still occur.

She explained rather than going to police, many victims go only to a sexual assault clinic and do not file a police report or press charges.

St. Joesph's Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Treatment Centre offers 24 hour support with a team of on-call doctors and nurses. It also offers a medical examination, collection of evidence, pregnancy and STD tests and crisis intervention, Fischer said.

Additionally, they offer post-trauma counselling for one to two years after an assault, she added.

"[Date rape drugs] are absolutely out there," said Detective Sgt. Dean Lees, head of London Police Department's sexual assault squad, noting ecstasy, rohypnol and GHB (gamma hydro xybutyrate) are all commonly used by perpetrators.

GHB, for example, enters the blood stream very quickly causing drowsiness and sometimes unconsciousness, before leaving the system very quickly, Lees explained. When a victim wakes up, they're not sharp and by the time a victim realizes what has happened, it can be too late to get medical confirmation of the drug's existence in the first place.

Someone who has been drugged may go in and out of consciousness, have very little recall and memory loss, body paralysis and feel groggy and heavy-headed for days after the event, Fischer added.

"If you're out with a friend who appears to be more intoxicated than usual, treat it as a medical emergency and get to a hospital," Lees said.

"We like to see people have a good time, but be careful," he said. "The rules have changed for clubbing. There are predators out there looking to do bad things to people. You must keep your guard up at all times."

"This is definitely something to worry about and should be addressed more by the media," said Western's Women's Issues Network co-ordinator Nicole Nelson.

In previous years, WIN distributed coasters to Western's on-campus bars that read "No means no" and "Date rape is a serious crime; slipping drugs into drinks is also illegal." Nelson said she hopes WIN will run the same campaign again, possibly this year.

"The media talks about this as a women's issue and then women talk to each other," Nicole said, adding the coaster campaign is directed at perpetrators.

"This issue should be important to everyone, not just people already concerned with women's issues."

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Copyright The Gazette 2001