Revealed by several cases of sexual abuse, cases of chemical submission seem to be more numerous in recent years. While some are opportunistic, others intervene in a private setting.

While the trial of the man nicknamed the “Tinder rapist” is scheduled to take place from March 18 until the end of the month, the question of chemical submission will finally be addressed by the courts. This technique, aimed at drugging a person in order to then abuse them, sexually in this case, is suspected of being an integral part of the modus operandi of Salim Berrada, the accused in the Tinder rapist case, according to the conclusions of the investigation. As a reminder, the man is suspected of having raped 13 young women and of having sexually assaulted four others between 2014 and 2016.

This case is not the first to highlight potential chemical tampering as a sexual predator weapon. The so-called Mazan rape case, in which a sixty-year-old man is accused of having drugged his wife to deliver her as a sexual object to around fifty strangers, has also caused a lot of ink to flow. For ten years, between 2010 and 2020, the man organized the rapes of his wife on the internet without the latter being aware of the market or the sexual violence to which she was subject.

More recently, the affair between MP Sandrine Josso and Senator Joël Guerriau further highlighted the scourge of chemical submission. The elected official from Loire-Atlantique filed a complaint against the parliamentarian for having drugged her without her knowledge and the man was indicted for “administration of a substance with a view to committing rape or sexual assault”. All these cases will be judged, in particular that of the Mazan rapes from September to December 2024.

Chemical submission is not a new technique, the proof with the dates of the facts suspected in the cases previously cited. The diversion of certain drugs for criminal purposes had already pushed the pharmaceutical industries to make certain products more easily detectable, notably by color, and to make others accessible only by prescription.

The National Medicines Safety Agency has been looking into the subject for a long time and set up in 2003, with the help of the Paris addictovigilance center, an annual observation system to identify cases of chemical submission recorded everywhere In France. However, in recent years, the figures prove that the number of reports has significantly increased and even tripled between 2021 and 2022: the ANSM counted 593 cases of “attacks facilitated by drugs”, compared to 727 in 2021 and 2,000 in 2022 indicated Leila Chaouachi, doctor of pharmacy in charge of the national survey with the ANSM, on France Inter.

Until very recently, chemical submission was understood to be the consequence of GHB alone, known as the “rapist drug”, but most often it is medications that are involved: sleeping pills, anxiolytics, painkillers. or antihistamines, the specialist lists. In 2022, 56% of cases were due to medications, the rest to various drugs.

While not all cases are necessarily chemical exposures – some may fall under “chemical vulnerability” after the victim has voluntarily taken substances – they give an idea of ​​the extent of the phenomenon. Caroline Darian, founder of the M’endors pas association and daughter of the victim of the Mazan rape case, agrees with this and assures in La Provence that chemical submissions are not “isolated cases” but represent ” a societal scourge” which “affects all levels of society, all socio-professional categories and all ages.” While chemical submission is often reduced to GHB slipped into a glass left unattended in a nightclub, “the reality is that it most often happens in the intra-family and private sphere” according to Caroline Darian. The freedom of speech which followed after the media coverage of certain cases explains in particular the increasing number of reports. But these figures remain fragmentary, because they cannot take into account all the victims who do not file a complaint or who are unaware of having been drugged and abused.

Chemical submission is not explicitly recognized as an offense or crime under French criminal law. It is simply mentioned as an aggravating circumstance in the event of rape or sexual assault against a drugged person. An addition permitted by a 2018 law which makes these acts punishable by five years in prison and a fine of €50,000. “It doesn’t seem to have scared people much,” said Caroline Darian.

Despite the proliferation of cases on sexual abuse involving chemical submission, neither the Ministry of Justice nor that of Health have taken up the subject, as also noted by Caroline Darian. But in March 2024 a government mission on the fight against attacks by chemical submission was opened and entrusted to MP Sandrine Josso. The elected official and the association have also decided to work together on this subject, in particular for the care of victims of chemical submission. For six months, the MP will question the various actors in the fight against attacks by chemical submission to take stock of the situation and propose appropriate responses.