Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Date Rape Drug Testers As Deterrence

From a Times Daily article by Bernie Delinski:

The news gave Francisco Guerra a sick feeling in his gut. Guerra, president of SnowMasters, had just found out a female friend was the victim of a sexual assault.

"I knew somebody who was date raped, and I couldn't believe nobody had a product to stop it," he said. Guerra, who already had his snow-making industry up and running at the time, decided to add something completely different to his product line: A device that detects common date-rape drugs GHB and ketamine.
Turning a personal realization into an effort to prevent rape is to be applauded. Too often people respond to personal realizations about sexual violence with the belief that someone else should be doing more and that's where their efforts end. The other cause of inaction related to prevention is when those who have these realizations assume that nothing they can do will make a noticeable dent in the problem so why even try.

We all need to figure out what we can do even if that is making it clear that we support those who are working to help victims and/or to prevent future violence and making the commitment to purge all victim blaming, minimization and denial from what we say and what we believe. The cumulative effect of many personal decisions is huge.

In previous stories I've read about these types of testing devices the main emphasis was on getting potential victims to use drug testing items as self defense. One company has a line of lipstick which comes with a test strip which will turn blue if it detects GHB or Ketamine.

That approach leaves huge gaps including that not all those who spike someone's drinks will use drugs with these 2 ingredients. When we tell women to test all drinks provided to them while doing nothing to prevent a backlash from men offended at not being trusted and don't make it clear that spiking drinks is a serious crime, the result will be bad and the victims will be the ones blamed for this bad result. When victims are blamed perpetrators become invisible or blameless when they should be neither.

Under the self-defense model, a victim's decision not to test may be seen improperly by some as indicating stupidity or foolishness or even as evidence that reduces the severity of the crime committed against this victim.

The other gap in the self-defense model is many victims are left feeling safer than they really are. Men may incorrectly assume they are safe from this type of drink spiking when the reality is that men have been targeted for sexual assault and drink spiking isn't done only with the motive of sexual assault, it can also be done to commit robbery or other crimes.

The approach Guerra took was to view important parts of his market as universities where drinking can be pervasive and to sell to those who provide alcohol to others and to use the testers as a general deterrent to those who are tampering with a legal product.

Drinks can be spiked anywhere and even non-alcoholic drinks can be spiked, but general attitudes about victims who had hot chocolate spiked are different from attitudes about victims who had alcoholic drinks spiked. This means less denial when a victim reports blacking out after only 1 drink and more risk for the person committing this crime.

The cost of these types of products is likely seen by institutional buyers as reducing liability risks.
The incident in early September, which led to the arrest of Brad Hellums, 46, a Dallas reserve police officer, made major news in Texas, according to reports. He is charged with tampering with a consumer product, possession of cocaine and public intoxication.[...]

Glover said the irony in the Hellums case is the bar where he is accused of slipping the drug into the drink had earlier turned down a DrinkSafe distributor. "They said it sounds great, but they don't have that problem in their bar," Glover said.

Fortunately, a bartender at the restaurant noticed the suspect slip the substance into the drink, Glover said. The bartender knew the bar across the street has DrinkSafe coasters, so he called police and went to the other bar, got a coaster and tested the drink. A spot on the coaster turned blue, and Hellums was arrested.
This scenario, where testing products provided quick results after the sighting of possible illegal behavior, maximizes the chance of preventing harm. In a bar where one person is distracted many other people remain in visual range and if all of them have the mindset of noticing potential crimes and some tools available to help them take action that is much more effective than ordering each person to only watch their own drinks.

Clearly this is not an absolute deterrence, but if bars actively embrace this concept to proactively protect their customers from tampered drinks and those who will resort to this crime and other crimes, that changes the environment in important ways.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 11:39 AM   1 comments links to this post

1 Comments:

At October 21, 2009 9:04 PM, Blogger Melissa Hale said...

More bars need to start making changes and getting DrinkSafe coasters or things similar to prevent date rape. It is something so easy that can be done and make such a big difference for the lives of women. Who cares if it cost a little more? Don't they see that it is worth it and could prevent causing lifelong damage to women?

 

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