Leo Platvoet

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Sexual assaults linked to "date-rape drugs"

Doc. 10317
5 October 2004

Motion for a resolution
presented by Mr Platvoet and others

This motion has not been discussed in the Assembly and commits only the members who have signed it

1.              There are increasingly frequent reports of cases of sexual violence, the victims of which were, unknowingly, under the influence of drugs known by the name of "date-rape drugs".  These drugs are used indiscriminately for every kind of aggression. However, the victims of the involuntary consumption of narcotics are in the great majority women and girls, most of whom are subjected to rape.

2.              This form of sexual offending raises the following particular problems.

a.       First of all, the initial context in which "date-rape drugs" (the best-known are Rohypnol and GHB) are used may pose a problem: the context is often that of a social encounter where alcohol consumption and the involuntary ingestion of drugs go together. What is more, the "blackout" effect and absence of recall help to aggravate victims' feeling of guilt, giving the false impression that they had in the first place agreed to have sex. Consequently, victims are hesitant to report the assaults they have suffered.  The fact that such drugs cause submissiveness and amnesia in the victims does not, for all that, alter the nature and serious consequences of sexual assaults, which always entail an element of coercion and therefore constitute an offence or a crime.

b.       Furthermore, these drugs are detectable only for a very short period, from 12 to 48 hours after ingestion.  The time factor therefore comes into play, and the victim has to react speedily to report the attack, possibly while still partially under the influence of the drug.  In short, if an assault has been reported, there is a need to ascertain whether a drug was administered and to make a distinction between the victimís consent and "innocence" where sex may have taken place following the ingestion of a drug. What is more, every victim of a sexual assault must be informed of the assistance available and obtain support and encouragement to make use of this.

3.              Having regard to the specific nature of this offence and its consequences for victims, as well as a lack of awareness on behalf of both the authorities and the general public of this problem, the Assembly recommends that Council of Europe member states:

i.        raise awareness in the general public and among the responsible authorities about "date-rape drugs" and the dangers linked to their use;

ii.       take specific measures to ensure that victims are given speedy medical and psychological care and informed of the possibility of undergoing tests and reporting the offence, for example by training the staff of places open to the public (bars, pubs) and distributing urine testing kits to the police and to medical services.