22 February 2001 Edition

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Drug rape campaign launched

The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) launched a campaign this week to raise awareness about drug rape in colleges nationwide.

The campaign coincides with college rag weeks - a traditional feature of college life, where students take the opportunity to let off steam before exams. As the consumption of alcohol soars, USI aims to show students just how easily their drinks can be tampered with.

``The issue of drug rape in Ireland, particularly in colleges, is one that is in desperate need of awareness promotion,'' USI's Welfare Officer, Alison Gibney, said on Monday. ``From talking to students, it is clear that although many are aware of the subject, very little is known about it. More importantly, even less is known about what they should look out for if they believe they have had their drinks spiked.''

The union say there are four basic signs to look for if people suspect their drinks have been spiked:

Loss of control of limbs
Excessive drunkenness not relating to the amount of alcohol consumed
Excessive loss of inhibitions
``During the campaign, stickers will be secretly placed on glasses to highlight how easy it is to tamper with a drink without the knowledge of the owner of the drink,'' Gibney said. ``While the promotion of the campaign will largely take place in bars frequented by students, incidents of spiking are not exclusive to alcoholic drinks in pubs and clubs, with cases alleged at house parties and cafés.''

USI President Julian de Spáinn said that drug rape is an issue that does not exclusively affect women. ``Although most drug rapes and sexual assaults target women, this campaign is aimed at men as well. Though women are most at risk, it is vital to make men aware that they should be alert to the threat of drug rape. It is not the aim of the campaign to alarm or scare people. By using the stickers, USI hopes that a greater awareness will be created amongst all students.''

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