MORE WOMEN DRUGGED AND RAPED, STUDY FINDS
Date-rape drugging rates more than doubled in Vancouver, Richmond and the North Shore from 1999-2002 compared to the rate in the previous five years, according to a study in the Canadian Journal of Public Health.
And the lead researcher believes the problem is potentially "much larger" than the 246 date drug rapes in the study.
"A very small number of women who experience sexual assault report it to police or to hospital," said Dr. Margaret McGregor, who teaches in the University of B.C.'s Department of Family Practice and works at the Mid-Main Community Health Centre.
McGregor cited a 1993 Statistics Canada study that showed fewer than 10 per cent of individuals who have been sexually assaulted report to a hospital.
She and her colleagues had noticed an increase in the number of drug-facilitated sexual assaults. The study was an attempt to quantify the rates.
It found the mean annual incidence of sexually assaulted females where drugs were used was 3.4 per 100,000 from 1993-1998.
From 1999-2002, the rate jumped to 10.7 per 100,000.
Most at risk were women aged 15-19 years.
Vancouver police spokeswoman Const. Ann Drennan said authorities have noticed an increase in date rape drugging but she can only remember one conviction in the last few years, that being of a gay man preying on other males.
The problem is that the drugs used, such as Rohypnol or gamma hydroxybutyrate [GBH], often give victims amnesia.
"They don't remember a thing, although they know something bad has happened to them," said Drennan, citing the recent case of one woman who was assaulted and left at the entrance to a culvert.
"The last thing she remembered was having drinks with friends," said Drennan.
Without evidence, police are stymied.
Drennan suggests anyone out partying should never leave their drink behind.
"If you leave your drink at a club, don't think you can come back and resume drinking that drink. You can't."