Rape educators focus on bar staff

By Simon Collins

A fifth of sexual violence happens in or around licensed premises. Photo / Getty Images
A fifth of sexual violence happens in or around licensed premises. Photo / Getty Images

Rape educators want to train New Zealand's bar staff to intervene when they see "predatory males" plying women with drinks during the Rugby World Cup.

Rape Prevention Education (formerly Rape Crisis) has teamed up with the police, Accident Compensation Corporation and the hospitality industry to train 130 bar staff in Auckland and Wellington in a pilot programme this year.

Director Kim McGregor said she hoped the other agencies would help to extend the programme nationally in the lead-up to the World Cup, which kicks off in September 2011.

"We need to do much more on prevention and social attitudes, for example around the [Cup]," she said.

"For us it's an opportunity. We have two years to prepare for it."

The programme targets bars because three-quarters of sexual offenders and half of all "date rape" victims were drinking or taking drugs before offences occurred.

A fifth of sexual violence happens in or around licensed premises.

Bars already have "host responsibilities" under the Sale of Liquor Act, which imposes fines of up to $10,000 on managers who allow anyone to become intoxicated on their premises or supply liquor to anyone who is already drunk.

Dr McGregor said staff also needed to be aware of the sexual risks for heavy drinkers.

"We are teaching bar staff how to keep patrons safe - identifying predatory males, and being aware of the consent laws," she said.

"They don't understand that it's rape if you have sex with someone who is so stupefied by alcohol or drugs that they can't give consent.

"For some bar staff there's an attitude that if a woman goes home with a guy drunk, she deserves all she gets. But they can stop giving people drinks when they're drunk, and they can be offering free water in between drinks and putting [out] nibbles and snacks."

Programme co-ordinator Kylie Tippett said the workshops trained bar staff to watch out for "red flags" such as patrons being sexually harassed, being plied with double or triple drinks or drugs without their knowledge, simply getting drunk very quickly, or leaving the bar with no way to get to their next destination safely.

She said security staff could approach offenders and say, "We have noticed your inappropriate sexual behaviour towards women or men this evening. We don't tolerate harassment on these premises - either stop or you'll be asked to leave."

Or: "We notice that you are buying large quantities of alcohol for another person. It's our policy that we check that the person is not intoxicated and is aware of what they're drinking."

She said one of the biggest problems raised in the workshops was what to do with people leaving the bar drunk and unable to get home safely.

"They may tell people where the nearest taxi stand is, or some bars know taxi companies and use those, and some felt quite comfortable calling police and said they had a great response in those situations," she said.

She plans to talk to taxi companies and other agencies about a possible voucher scheme for people at risk who did not have any money for a taxi.

"There would need to be all sorts of training required. We'd have to check that they were not being misused."

Some bars wanted posters stating policies such as: "We do not tolerate sexual harassment or aggression. If you are concerned with any patrons, do come to us and we'll deal with it."

"We've been asked to develop some posters," Ms Tippett said.

Hospitality Association operations manager Scott Necklen said the pilot programmes were successful and the industry would support further workshops. "We are supportive of initiatives that give hospitality staff practical strategies to ensure patrons' safety and ensure patrons have a happy and enjoyable night out."

RED FLAGS

* Sexual harassment or aggression.
* Someone giving another person double and triple drinks or drugs without their knowledge.
* Someone getting intoxicated very quickly.
* Someone leaving the bar unable to get to their next destination safely.

www.rapecrisis.org.nz

- NZ Herald

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