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Legality

In Germany, GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyrate) is restricted under the Narcotics Act
(Betäubungsmittelgesetz) since 2002. This means the possession, purchase, sale,
dispensing and administration of GHB is a crime. Even prescription psychotropics such as benzodiazepines are restricted by the Narcotics Act in Germany.

This does not mean, however, that it's impossible or even that difficult for offenders to get their hands on these drugs. GBL, a precursor of GHB is even available legally in Germany.

Under German law, the sexual abuse of persons incapable of resistance is a crime. If convicted, the perpetrators can be sentenced to ten years in prison under section 179 of the Criminal Code. Administrating these substances to unsuspecting individuals is a crime even.

Official statistics

The estimated number of unreported crimes is high – there are many reasons why the exact number of rapes and other crimes committed under date rape drugs is unknown:

  • Date rape drugs can only be detected in the body for a limited amount of time – during which however victims are often still incapacitated. It is often only weeks or months later that they realise what happened to them. Most suffer from a total blackout (retrograde amnesia), i.e. they cannot recall what happened immediately before losing consciousness.
  • Feelings of shame combined with fragmentary or absent memory often
    prevents victims from directly contacting the police.
  • A lack of sympathy and knowledge not only on the part of the police, but also doctors and hospitals. Police and emergency services often fail to take
    seriously people suffering from memory gaps reporting bizarre incidents.
    Victims might then often be written off or blamed for having consumed too
    much alcohol or too many party drugs.
  • Given that forensic verification of the drugs is already difficult to begin with and practically impossible after a short while, victims often cannot provide any proof of their suspicion. In the absence of solid evidence of the substances, the victim's credibility is often questioned or doubted, even if a perpetrator can be identified.

More and more victims seek help.

Women's helplines and counselling centres are reporting an increase in this type of
crime, as more and more women and girls who were raped or abused under date rape drugs seek their support and services.

Only in a fraction of cases do the victims contact the police, and in even fewer cases is it possible to trace the substances through forensic analysis. The rate of convictions is unknown.

Education and information:

Things must change – it is essential to raise awareness and to educate both potential victims and those who provide support.

Police, hospitals, emergency doctors and paramedics need to have a better understanding of the problem in order to be able to better respond to the emergencies and exceptional circumstances of women who were drugged and raped. It is also essential that women and girls know about the dangers of date rape drugs so that they can protect themselves and know what to do and who to contact if worse comes to worst.