Doctors and nurses are unfamiliar with date-rape drugs and accuse women rape victims of being drunk, when in fact they have been drugged without their knowledge. This is one of the serious facts about the drugs that activists aired at a meeting of the Knesset Committee for the Advancement of Women on Tuesday.
Only one toxicology laboratory in the country – at Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer – is able to test for and identify date-rape drugs in the blood of women, experts said.
This is one of the problems that prevents the prosecution of men who put the drug into drinks without the victim being aware of it.
The committee discussion was initiated by MKs Yifat Kariv and Michal Rozin, who said that women are often blamed for going to pubs and clubs and “deserving” to get into trouble.
The committee was also told that, while the drug remains in the victim’s blood only 12 hours after drinking it, it can be identified in the urine for 24 hours. Dr. Nessia Lang of Poriya Medical Center in Tiberias said that policemen in stations around the country should be trained to obtain a urine sample from any woman who complains of being raped without being conscious of the act.
The committee approved this recommendation and urged the Israel Police to implement it. Lang said there is a clear difference in symptoms between someone who awakens from a drunken stupor and a date-rape drug. The former is characterized by nausea, vomiting, headache, and a general bad feeling, while the victim of a date-rape drug feels well, but has forgotten what happened during the previous 12 hours.
Committee chairwoman MK Aliza Lavie said a serious media campaign is needed to increase awareness, not only among young people but also medical professionals. A current media campaign merely urges women to “watch your glass” to ensure that nothing is added to their drinks. The Health Ministry, she said, has committed itself to hold a seminar for doctors and nurses on the subject in a few weeks and train professionals in emergency rooms within a few months.
Ronni Berkowitz of the enforcement branch of the ministry said date-rape drugs have a two-phased action. In small doses, it causes euphoria, but in larger ones it causes the victim to forget everything.
It is a dangerous drug with potentially severe side effects, he said.
“In Sweden, there were 23 cases of death and in the US more than 200. It may affect the heart and affect respiration.
It is an illegal drug; one liter can be diluted into thousands of doses,” Berkowitz said.