Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Date Rape is Not Made in the USA

Anyone who has spent any time in an American college or university has to be aware of the risks of "date rape," which is essentially defined as sexual assault or rape by someone with whom you're acquainted. Most institutions of higher learning (IHL) also have very conscious awareness programs for students to help them avoid "date rape" situations. Unfortunately, most U.S. foreign study programs abroad, often do not provide American students the guidance they need to deal with "date rape" abroad, which is just as prevalent as it is in the U.S. Moreover, many U.S. employers do not properly train their employees who travel and work abroad.

In one of the international training programs I provide to clients, "Understanding, Prevention and Response: Sexual Assault & Rape Abroad," sadly, with no American universties included, awareness and resistance training is provided to women who travel and work abroad.

Although we see "date rape" occurring virtually everywhere abroad, it is often committed in concert with the use of "date rape" drugs, be they in powder and liquid, or even in cigarettes. For information, see pages 230-249 of my book, Staying Safe Abroad: Traveling, Working and Living in a Post-9/11 World," which can be ordered @ http://www.sbrisksolutions.com/.

As an example, let's look at India, only because there have been so many cases of foreign women being raped there, including a Swiss diplomat and a 15-year-old British teenager, the latter of whom was also murdered. In 2003, a young girl in Goa was drugged and gang-raped by her friends after she smoked a cigarette they offered to her. In 2007, headlines carried the tragic tale of a British tourist who was drugged and sexually assaulted by a friend in her hotel room in New Delhi, and last week, the international media carried a story of how a 23-year-old American girl, a student at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) in Trombay, was drugged and raped by six male friends.

The free availability of sedatives and party drugs over the counter have led to an enormous amount of misuse and numerous women wake up the morning after with no recollection of what happened to them the previous night. These drugs are colorless, odorless and tasteless, so spiking someone's drink with them is extremely easy. They are available at pharmacies even without a doctor's prescription. Victims of a date rape drug might experience disorientation, memory loss and time-space confusion, which makes it very easy to rape them.

Key tips for women traveling abroad include:

1. Realize that "date rape" is as possible abroad as it is at home;

2. Don't go out partying ALONE! Always go out with someone you can trust who can help keep
you out of trouble;

3. Don't accept a drink, a cigarette or anything consumable from anyone, unless you trust them
implicity;

4. Never leave your drink or beverage unattended. If you do leave your drink, order ANOTHER one;

5. Be cautious of people who go out of their way to befriend you;

6. Be cautious of anyone you might be interested in spending the night with, and don't leave the security of your friends unless you feel very comfortable with someone;

7. Don't go to a house party ALONE with people you don't trust;

8. Avoide establishments that are known to be frequented by drug users and people who take advantage of women, as well as places known to be a magnet for troublemakers;

9. Don't leave your room key next to your purse or bag, as you could find someone following you back to your hotel or residence; and

10. Always carry a cell phone abroad and be able to reach those you trust QUICKLY. Know how to text your friends in an emergency, considering that your friend(s) may be in the same room you're in.

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