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Drink spiking soars at city night spots

Gold Coast health officials fear the insidious practice of drink spiking is on the rise with a growing number of women requiring medical assistance after being drugged at the city's pubs and clubs.
Gold Coast Centre Against Sexual Violence director Di Macleod said at least one woman a week was seeking help from the service, fearing they had been drugged and sexually assaulted.
The rise follows a quiet two years during which authorities say drink spiking all but disappeared.
The resurgence has health and sexual assault experts fearing predators are again targeting young women partying at the city's hot spots.
Gold Coast Medical Association president Peter McLaren said emergency departments had reported a rise in the number of patients with symptoms of drink spiking.
"That, I fear, is only the tip of the iceberg," he said.
"It is a pretty lame thing to do if the motivation is to pick up women.
"It is happening at licensed venues more than at house parties because it is anonymous.
"We need to find out what the motivation is behind this and why it is on the increase."
Ms Macleod said incidents of drink spiking increased sporadically but they appeared to be particularly prevalent during the past 12 months.
"We haven't had women requesting our support for drink spiking in the past two years but now we are seeing a rise to at least one woman a week needing our service because she fears she has been raped or sexually assaulted," she said.
"It tends to be more in social situations at licensed venues and the women are reporting waking up in a strange place with no clothes on or partially undressed, with no idea how they got there, no clue who was involved and some evidence of sexual activity."
Drink spikers often use date-rape drugs including rohypnol or liquid fantasy to render their victim unconscious, but other sedative drugs are also being used.
The most recent Australian Institute of Criminology report found that between 3000 and 4000 suspected incidents of drink spiking occurred in Australia each year.
About one-third involved sexual assault but less than 15 per cent of suspected drink-spiking sexual assaults were reported to police.
Ms Macleod said it was time to revisit "drink safe" awareness campaigns to remind women to never leave drinks unattended and not to accept drinks from strangers.


www.goldcoast.com.au (13-8-2012)
Tanya Westthorp
http://www.goldcoast.com.au/article/2012/08/13/436550_gold-coast-news.html




 

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