ACCORDING to Amanzimtoti SAPS, there have been a number of rapes reported within the eThekwini Outer South Cluster that are alcohol related. Speaking on this, Amanzimtoti SAPS Communication officer Captain Charlene Van Der Spuy said: “Alcohol seems to be playing a huge role in sexual violence. Excessive drinking has the ability to lower inhibitions, impair a person’s judgement, and increase the risk of aggressive behaviours in men. For perpetrators, drinking may intensify their aggressive behaviour. This can make them become more forceful when someone tries to resist them. Women become weak to protect themselves from being victims of rape. “Prolonged drinking or binge drinking significantly increases the risk of women being victims of sexual violence. Giving in to the harmful effects of alcohol can change your life in an instant. “A sexual assault is a forced sexual act and may involve touching, kissing, and intercourse.”She further stated that sexual assault can occur when there is a lack of consent, as well as when the victim is unable to give consent due to intoxication or mental state, saying: “Many women have been sexually assaulted while they themselves are under the influence and thereafter cannot even remember the suspect or incident clearly. Some women don’t even remember they have been raped until maybe they take a bath or go to the toilet and discover that they have been sexually assaulted/raped. It is important as woman not to overindulge in alcohol as it makes one vulnerable to rape or sexual assault,” said Van Der Spuy“Many of the rape cases in the eThekwini Outer South Cluster are when a victim wakes up from her evening of drinking with a male lying next to her and she can’t remember giving him consent to have sex with her. Rape cases such as these are often thrown out of court because the victim cannot remember if she gave consent to sex and also cannot remember details of the sexual assault. “Rape is the unlawful sexual intercourse, with or without force, without the consent of the victim. It is hard to prove ‘without consent’ when the victim cannot remember in her drunken state if she gave consent or not,” added Van Der Spuy. “It is important, as women, that we take responsibility for our behaviour. Drinking and becoming over intoxicated is irresponsible. We need to ensure we are always in our full senses! I am not saying women must not enjoy themselves and have a drink, but I am saying they should drink responsibly in order to protect themselves from sexual assault and rape. They must be smart.”Be SMARTS — Say NO to sex you don’t want.M — Make yourself clearly understood.A — Alcohol affects your judgement, so watch what you drink.R — Rape stays with you for life.T — Take care of each other and don’t go off with someone you just met.Many rapes occur when people are drunk. Follow these steps to protect yourself.• Don’t get so drunk that you don’t know what you are doing.• Don’t go alone to a stranger’s house when you are drunk. Arrange to meet when you are sober.• Don’t accept a drink from a stranger or share drinks with someone you just met. Only leave your drink with someone you trust.• Plan how you are going home. Don’t walk alone. Don’t get a lift with a stranger. Stay at a girlfriend’s house (ensure your bedroom door is locked) or organise a taxi.