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WOMEN in Cookstown are leaving themselves open to becoming the victims of sexual assault on nights out by not being fully aware of the company they are in.

The warning follows a sexual assault against an 18-year-old girl in Molesworth Street which is under investigation by police.

Women who frequent bars, nightclubs and house parties are being warned to be alert and to know their whereabouts as well as those they are with.

They are also being advised not to consume excessive amounts of alcohol which can make them disorientated and incapable of looking after themselves.

Eugene O’Goan, project co-ordinator of TIPSA (Teenagers Involved In Protecting Selves Around Alcohol) told the MAIL that with all the talk about so called ‘date rape’ drugs, the reality of the situation is that the most dangerous drug is alcohol.

“People may not realise how much they are drinking in one evening and they end up intoxicated,” he said.

“All the statistics show that alcohol is the drug most likely cause people to be assaulted. And it’s very difficult to protect yourself against that,” he added.

Cookstown and District Women’s Group centre development manager, Mary Hogg, is urging women to exercise vigilance when out at night.

The centre is at the forefront of helping women on a daily basis regarding issues and problems with their lives.

Mrs Hogg said there is nothing more horrendous than to be made aware that this is happening within the local community.

“It robs women of their dignity and takes away the very soul of the individual. We just cannot comprehend the aftermath that this would leave on young people,” she added.

A PSNI spokesperson said police are continuing to investigate an allegation of a sexual assault on an 18-year-old woman in Cookstown.

The incident is alleged to have occurred at Molesworth Street in the early hours of April 21.

“If you are going out at night, or going to a house, make sure you know where you are and who you are with, and make sure that people know where you are,” he added.

The PSNI spokesperson also pointed out that if women are out together, they should ensure they stay together and go home together.

Cookstown and District Women’s Group is based at the Positive Steps Community Centre and if any young women need any kind of support in relation to personal issues, Positive Steps has a counselling service available.

For more information contact Mary or Bernie on 028 8676 1020.