The Metropolitan Police's campaign on drug-rape is hard to swallow.
Christmas time, mistletoe and wine….
But only if you are very, very careful who you are kissing and what is lurking in your glass. Yet another safety campaign has been launched, this time to warn women – and young men, so they don’t feel left out – of the dangers of drug-assisted rape.
Adverts to be screened in cinemas will show a respectable-looking gentleman slipping some powder into his unsuspecting victim’s drink, and will end with her being ‘ushered’ into his car, obviously out of it. The narrator – the ubiquitous Davina McCall – informs viewers: ‘You’ve just witnessed a rapist in action. Drug rape is happening. Make sure it’s not happening to you.’
What a great thing to witness on a first date at the cinema, just before potential Mr Right returns with two large diet cokes.
The campaign will also involve TV ads, posters, and fliers in bars in and around London’s West End. Detective Chief Inspector Richard Walton, of the Metropolitan Police anti-rape unit, ‘admitted that the Met was torn between creating unnecessary panic and warning people of a real danger’ (1). So, after careful consideration, the Met has endorsed a campaign that will…create unnecessary panic.
Obviously, going out, getting pissed, and going home with a stranger involves a risk. So do most things in life, and not just the naughty things that involve alcohol and sex – getting into the bath, or doing some DIY, for example. There have been plenty of panics and campaigns around these activities, too – but drug rape involves other people, and nowadays that makes it scarier.
The Evening Standard’s safety advice for a drug-rape-free night on the town includes suggestions such as: ‘Avoid going out alone. Look out for friends or appoint a “drinks watcher”.’ (2) They forgot to add that this must be someone with a strong bladder (who will never have to nip off to the loo); and your ugliest friend, who will not get distracted by getting chatted up (even by a non-raping type) herself.
Other suggestions include ‘Stay aware and keep away from situations that make you feel uncomfortable’, and ‘Don’t accept drinks from anyone you do not trust’ – because, of course, most women don’t think twice about downing a fizzy-looking pint offered to them by a man with 666 tattooed on his forehead, or spending an evening at a swinger’s club when they intend to hold on to their virginity.
When out and about, most people tend to behave sensibly enough not to put themselves at huge risk. Things like ‘considering whether you leave a pub, club or party with someone you have just met’ are intuitive. Going out on the piss at Christmas need not be a military-style operation for it not to end in tears.
After all, it’s safe enough to say that even if – shock horror – you are utterly carefree, get blasted and ride home with an entire rugby team, most likely the worst that will happen to you is that you wake up with a headache in a rather smelly flat full of stinking rugby boots and spitty gum shields. Because, guess what – most men are not rapists. Of course, you might still get pissed and pull while you’re wearing beer goggles. But waking up next to a bald Dr Who fanatic is something every self-respecting young person should do at least once.
Approximately 100 complaints of drug rape were reported in the West End in the past year. When you think that millions of people drink in central London’s pubs, bars and nightclubs over the course of a year, and that ‘most drug rapes are committed by a small number of repeat offenders’ (3), the number of men who could be accused of spiking your drink and assaulting you seems fairly insignificant.
It was once considered flattering for a man to chat up a girl up in the pub. At university, we were always impressed if a bloke actually offered to buy a girl a drink before asking her home with him.
Those days are apparently gone, but it might be worth remembering that your Christmas night out is more likely to be ruined by running to the toilet to hide every time you are approached by a potential rapist, than it is by someone slipping something into your drink.
spiked-issue: Drink and drugs
(1) ‘Advert urges women to be alert over drug rape’, Alex Benady, Evening Standard, Tuesday 10 December 2002
(2) ‘Advert urges women to be alert over drug rape’, Alex Benady, Evening Standard, Tuesday 10 December 2002
(3) ‘Advert urges women to be alert over drug rape’, Alex Benady, Evening Standard, Tuesday 10 December 2002
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