Date-rape drink spiking – is it real?

Whether or not date-rape drink spiking is a real problem or not is a debate I have been following for some years now.  An article in the UK Daily Mail suggests that it is actually a minor problem and is far out-weighed by the problem of heavy alcohol consumption (see Are date rape spiked drinks an urban myth?).  My casework experience bears this out and I agree with the forensic scientist stated in the article, Mike Scott-Ham, who is a very  experienced forensic scientist.

Sad to say that I have been involved as forensic science consultant on many rape cases in the past, all of them without exception having involved excessive alcohol consumption on the part of both parties.  There was one memorable case where an allegation of rape was made that didn’t involve alcohol but it was completely fabricated, which was borne out in court during the trial.

As a woman, I am sometimes expected to champion the cause of women’s rights and the problems of female oppression.  Unfortunately, on the date-rape drug debate I cannot fight the corner and don’t feel that I should be expected to do so.  Rape is a very real problem and everything possible should  be done to deal with the problem and prevent it, where possible.  However, excess alcohol consumption has indeed sky-rocketed in recent years, particularly amongst women.  This to me represents the far greater risk – alcohol can affect the same person in different ways on different occasions; excessive alcohol consumption will lead to varying degrees of incapacitation, even in someone who considers that they can take their drink.

A hair strand test can be undertaken to determine whether or not drugs could have been taken by a Complainant at around the time of an alleged incident.  There are a couple of independent organisations undertaking such work, but no independent companies in NZ (as far as I am aware – I am happy to stand corrected).  Of the cases where I have suggested hair samples be analysed, no drugs have been detected, only normal levels of GHB (because the body naturally manufactures the substance and its presence is to be expected in hair strand samples).  I have also been involved, as an expert witness, with thousands of drink drive cases, in which some Defendants (always women) alleged that their driving was affected by their drinks having been spiked with date rape drugs – in not one case was this ever found to have any foundation.

To my mind, the closing line of the article says it all: “whatever the risks of the drink spiker coming after you – the chances are that alcohol will get to you first”..

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