Pubdate: Sat, 31 Mar 2007
Source: Winnipeg Free Press (CN MB)
Copyright: 2007 Winnipeg Free Press
Author: Robson Fletcher, Brandon Sun
Bookmark: (date rape)


A new liquor law aimed at preventing so-called "date rape drugs" from
being slipped into drinks takes effect tomorrow, allowing bar patrons
to protect their beverages when they go to the washroom.

Charleswood MLA Myrna Driedger, a former nurse who introduced the law
as a private member's bill last year, hopes the new rules will make it
harder for would-be rapists to slip drugs into unattended drinks.

Sexual predators who use debilitating drugs to take advantage of
victims are a serious problem in this province, according to Driedger.

"I am aware of five people who have been date raped in this manner
where a drug was slipped into their drink," she said during debate on
the bill in December. "Of the five people that I know, one was a man."

Diana Soroka of the Manitoba Liquor Control Commission said bar owners
will be encouraged to allow drinks in washrooms or to take other steps
to keep drinks safe from tampering, such as leaving them with a
bartender or security guard.

The new rules won't change things at Houston's Country Roadhouse, one
of the most popular nightclubs in Brandon, where drinks are already
allowed in the washrooms.

Assistant manager Jon Moore said that's part of the bar's safety and
security policy. "We also put a security guard in the washrooms."

Darlene McDonald, a public health nurse in Brandon, said she knows of
several cases where women were almost definitely drugged.

It's difficult to confirm in a lab, she said, because date rape drugs
typically pass through a person's system quickly, but the scenarios
suggest the women were deliberately targeted.

"What I get are females who tell me... I know how many drinks I had
and, in my normal behaviour, I have a very good memory when I've had
that number of drinks. That night, I had the same number of drinks,
but I don't remember. I was in this strange person's place. I don't
know how I got there."

But she added that simply taking drinks into the bathroom is not a
perfect solution, as that comes with its own health concerns.

Bar patrons seemed to agree.

"I don't think, as a female, I'd want to take my drink into the
bathroom," Leslie Strange said.

"I don't know -- all those germs around there. It's kind of weird."
- ---
MAP posted-by: Derek