Knesset panel calls for tracking system to halt spread of date rape drug

Anti-Drug Authority spokesman tells "Post" that drugs already illegal, but "there is no organization between the Health Ministry and the health funds."

By
October 31, 2006 00:03
2 minute read.

The Knesset Committee on Drug Abuse called on the Health Ministry Monday to implement a better system of monitoring the sale of dangerous drugs and medicines that can be used to formulate what has become known as the "date rape drug." Committee head, MK Nissim Ze'ev (Shas) told an assortment of Knesset members, non-government organization activists and civil servants that it was time for the Health Ministry to implement the recommendations of an earlier report by the committee submitted in August 2003. Among the changes to be made, said Ze'ev, was the installation of a comprehensive computer system to keep track of who is prescribing and who is receiving the drugs used as date rape drugs or the compounds used to make up such lethal substances. At the meeting, Michal Ofer, a member of the Pharmaceutical Society of Israel, said there is currently very little supervision over the sale of dangerous drugs in Israel. Following the meeting, Shamai Golan, spokesman for the Anti-Drug Authority told The Jerusalem Post that increasing the supervision of such substances was the main way forward in the fight against drugs used by rapists to dupe their victims. "These drugs are already outlawed in Israel," said Golan, referring to a 2003 Knesset ruling that listed GHB - one of the date rape drugs - as a dangerous drug, making its sale and use illegal. "However, there is no organization between the Health Ministry and the health funds." Some of the drugs used to instigate rapes such Rohypnol (flunitrazepam) or some of the elements used to make up the other date rape drugs - GHB (gamma hydroxybutyric acid) and Ketamine (ketamine hydrochloride) - are used to treat other ailments such as narcolepsy and are available from pharmacies. Monday's committee meeting heard how in most cases the date rape drug is an odorless substance that can be easily slipped into alcoholic drinks at clubs and bars without detection. Asst.-Cmdr. Suzy Ben-Baruch, head of the Israel Police's youth department, told the committee that such drugs cause the victim to suffer from complete loss of memory for several hours and as such, police have no way of proving that a rape actually took place. Golan said that the Anti-Drug Authority was looking into methods used abroad to make detection of the drugs in a person's beverage much easier. According to police estimates, more than 40 complaints have been lodged over the past year claiming that a victim was raped while under the influence of a date rape drug. To date, no one in Israel has been convicted for administering the drug and then raping a victim. Sharon Mayevsky, spokeswoman for the Association of Rape Crisis Centers, told the Post following the meeting that because the victim does not remember what has happened to her, it is difficult for her to file a report. She suspected that more cases were likely. She said that the committee also discussed ways to raise awareness of the problem among youth and the general public. "The committee suggested that women need to be more aware of the possibility of drugs being slipped into their drinks but we have a problem with that message because it is putting the responsibility on the woman," said Mayevsky, adding that it only adds to the victim's belief that she is to blame for the rape. "I'm not saying that women should not be vigilant of these things, just that the police and bar owners need to take even more responsibility to prevent such rapes from happening."


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