Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Japan: Irish Exchange Student May Have Had Her Drink Spiked with Drug

As a follow-up on my recent postings concerning the tragic death of Irish exchange student Nicola Furlong, 21, Japanese police now believe that Ms. Furlong was sexually assaulted after she was strangled.

Understandably, Tokyo police are also pursuing leads that suggest that the young woman's drink may have been spiked, which led to the terrible tragedy that befell her after she and another Irish friend encountered two young Americans who pursued an interest in them.

COMMENT: Our sympathies go out to Nicola's family and the devastation that they must be experiencing.

As I emphasized in an earlier posting on this tragedy, I continue to express concern with the lack of preparedness for overseas living and particularly the need for diligent security awareness training that many institutions of higher learning fail to impart to young students who have very little life experience to rely on in countries fraught with predators.

Sadly, many universities don't even bring up security threats in their pre-departure orientation for students out of fear that if they do, they won't be able sell students and their parents on the idea of foreign study abroad. Yet, studies have shown that informed travelers who realistically know the threats they will face abroad are less likely to become victims.

Many universities also do not provide detailed guidance to overseas-bound students on the widespread prevalence of various drugs used to sedate and immobilize students who can then be robbed and taken advantage of.

Reportedly, even though Ms. Furlong and her friend traveled from where they were attending school in Takasaki (95 kilometers away) to Tokyo to see a concert, it is clear that the two Americans initiated pursuit of the two women.  Nicola was due to return to Ireland in July.