• Fri
  • Sep 19, 2014
  • Updated: 8:52pm

Bar ban on BA crews over fear of date rape

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 20 August, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 20 August, 2006, 12:00am

Airline probing claims that staff drinks were spiked in Wan Chai


British Airways has banned staff from visiting a popular bar in Wan Chai after several crew members were allegedly slipped a date-rape drug on the premises.


The airline has launched an investigation into Rohypnol incidents that occurred at the bar. It has refused to reveal whether the victims were drugged by fellow crew members, bar staff or patrons.


'We are undertaking an investigation following a number of reports of crew feeling unwell after visiting the bar,' said a BA spokesman from the company's London headquarters.


'We have advised our crew to avoid visiting the bar whilst the investigation is ongoing. We take the well-being and safety of our staff very seriously, and are therefore erring on the side of caution.'


The spokesman would not comment further, but did confirm that the cases all involve Rohypnol - a tasteless and colourless tranquilliser usually prescribed for insomnia.


However, airline staff, who wished to remain anonymous, said the investigation involves four stewardesses who reported to the airline over the past 12 months that they had been drugged with Rohypnol. Investigations are supposedly being carried out by BA and Britain's Foreign Office.


Numerous attempts over the course of two weeks to contact the bar for comment were unsuccessful. Despite being notified of the inquiries and of the urgency, staff at the bar's managing company said the person in charge was 'too busy' to return calls.


BA's ban on the bar follows a date-rape warning the airline issued to its 13,000 staff in November over the possibility of drink-tampering at bars. At the time, BA said that three stewardesses had had drinks tampered with in different parts of the world.


It advised cabin crew on long-haul flights to be wary of accepting drinks - which could be spiked to induce temporary memory loss - from strangers and not to leave drinks unattended. Rohypnol and Hong Kong were never mentioned.


Local police said they had not received reports on the alleged incidents but believe Rohypnol - more than HK$2 million worth of it was sold in Hong Kong last year - is not a big problem in the city.


'In the first half year of 2006, there were a total of two cases involving flunitrazepam [Rohypnol], with four tablets seized. For the whole year of 2005, two cases were recorded, with six tablets of flunitrazepam seized,' said a police spokesman.


'The above figures reflect that flunitrazepam was not the most problematic drug in Hong Kong as compared to other drugs like ketamine, heroin, cocaine.'


But the Association Concerning Sexual Violence Against Women believes that date rape involving drugs and alcohol is a seriously under-reported problem in Hong Kong.


According to service co-ordinator Irene Ng Wai-ching, last year 51 women approached the association for help over drug-induced date rapes.


'Drugs like Rohypnol or GHB [gamma hydroxybutyrate] are tasteless and colourless. After someone ingests them they lose all sensation ... like a corpse. They have no memory of what happened and can only suspect they were violated because of trace evidence on their clothes or bodies,' she said.


With drugs becoming ever more accessible at local pharmacies and online, Ms Ng warned that date- rape cases were bound to increase.


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