Alcohol most common date rape drug here

Michael Lavery

ALCOHOL is the most common "date rape" drug in Ireland.

The warning came as a major international conference on survivors of rape was announced for Ireland in November.

The acceptance of alcohol to "loosen up" and facilitate social encounters creates specific problems in recognising that drink is being used as a 'date rape' drug, Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI ) said.

"In fact, the RCNI study found that in 74pc of complaints involving rape facilitated by rape consumption, the defendant was not on a date or in any form of sexual relationship with the victim, but was an acquaintance in a social setting," Cliona Saidlear of RCNI said.

Treating sexual violence perpetrated when people have been drinking differently to "sober" sexual violence "may result in victims minimising a sexual assault, or worse, blaming themselves", she said.

"It may also result in perpetrators believing that they are doing something that they can get away with."

It could also lead to bystanders "not responding appropriately, to, what under sober conditions, they would recognise as a sexual assault in progress.

attitudes

"We can change all of these," Ms Saidlear added.

Messages to prevent sexual violence must acknowledge the role of alcohol consumption, and attitudes to consumption and sexual activity.

"They must ensure recognition that having sex with a person who is seriously impaired or incapacitated due to alcohol, whether voluntarily consumed or no, is a rape," she said.

Rape risk reduction messages that focus on alcohol must critically address the excuse that alcohol provides for rape, she said.

"Rape prevention messages must not result in the misplacing of 'responsibility' on girls and women who were intoxicated at the time of their rape," she said.

Galway will be the location for the 3rd International Conference on Survivors of Rape, from November 8-10.

The three-day conference will hear from speakers and case studies from Denmark, Sweden, South Africa, Kenya, the UK, Ireland, India, and Vietnam.

The keynote speaker on day one of the conference will be Prof Debra Patterson of Wayne State University in Michigan, USA.

mlavery@herald.ie