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The Herald Sun
By Tanya Giles, August 17 2002

Rape drug alert sounded

SEXUAL predators are using potentially deadly drugs to spike drinks in Melbourne's nightclubs and pubs, police warned yesterday.

An internal police memo has raised an alarm that the illegal drug GHB, also known as fantasy or liquid ecstasy, could be being used to sedate women at Melbourne's night spots.

The drug is potentially lethal, particularly if taken with alcohol, and can induce impaired movement and speech, respiratory collapse, unconsciousness and coma.

Det Sen-Sgt Chris O'Connor, of the rape squad, said yesterday rapists were using drugs and alcohol to prey on vulnerable women in pubs and nightclubs.

"Logic suggests that there are always opportunistic sexual predators out there who will seek to satisfy their lust," he said.

"Invariably, almost exclusively, the victims are vulnerable women and consent is not an issue."
A Centre Against Sexual Assault study over six months last year found more than 200 people reported being sexually assaulted at or after leaving licensed venues, with 82 believing their drink had been spiked.

Police figures last financial year showed that about 1100 people reported being raped in Victoria, with about 30 believing they had their drinks spiked.

Toxicology results showed that 10 to 12 per cent of the victims had traces of sedatives in their system. None of those samples had traces of GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyrate).

The National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre has said while GHB was particularly easy to overdose on, it was difficult to detect in blood and urine.

There are several anti- spiking precautions people can take:

DRINKING from sealed containers.
BUYING your own drinks.
HAVING someone you trust mind your drink.
ALERTING someone you trust if you are feeling unwell or disoriented.
REFUSING to accept pills from anyone.




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