Hilla Kerner, spokesperson for the Vancouver Rape Relief Society, says that groping is so commonplace she suspects that many women don’t even report their assault (Pixabay photo)

Vancouver advocate says anti-groping police campaign isn’t enough to stop predators

The poster campaign won’t do any harm, but Hilla Kerner says lack of charges sends undeterring message

A Vancouver advocate against sexual assault says a new police effort to deter groping in public places may raise awareness about the problem, but the most effective deterrents are criminal charges.

Law enforcement agencies launched an anti-groping poster campaign this week to send a message that unwanted sexual contact is classified as sexual assault and will result in charges.

But Hilla Kerner, spokesperson for Vancouver’s Rape Relief Society, told Black Press Media that most sexual offences don’t end in anyone actually appearing in court.

According to documents from a Freedom of Information request by Kerner, only 128 of 624 sex assaults reported to Vancouver police resulted in charges in 2018, or about 20 per cent.

“What we really want the police to do is increase that number – because that is what tells men they are likely to get away with sexually assaulting women,” she said. “We believe that is the most deterring message.”

Groping is so common, Kerner said, that she suspects many victims don’t bother to report it.

“We hear it from the women who volunteer with us, we hear it from the women who call the crisis line – whenever we talk to women, women are being groped in public spaces on a regular basis.”

Vancouver police Sgt. Aaron Roed said officers treat every reported sexual assault as a top priority.

“If it is reported to police, it will be investigated,” he told Black Press Media, adding that the department offers support to victims upon reaching out.

Bystanders can also play a pivotal role in combating public sexual offences, Kerner said, by speaking up or intervening and taking a photo of the suspect.

READ MORE: Hands Off! campaign targets gropers on public transit, in bars in Vancouver

Vancouver police said they have investigated 270 reports of unwanted sexual contact since 2018, while Metro Vancouver Transit Police have investigated a further 75. The Barwatch organization is also behind the anti-groping campaign.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

UFV offers mental-health screenings as part of Beyond the Blues

Activities at event from Jan. 27-31 include stress bingos and colouring

Second earthquake in two days strikes near Agassiz

A 2.6-magnitude recorded Saturday morning

Province bringing 421 new affordable childcare spaces to Fraser Valley

Supporting early childhood educators and creating spaces go hand in hand, minister says

Aspiring pot-sellers can apply in two weeks to operate stores in Abbotsford

City will accept applications to operate one of four new stores; public consultation to follow

Nine Abbotsford citizens fleeced for over $68,000 by bitcoin scammers

Police warn public about fraudsters who threaten arrest

Officials reaching out to those in contact with Canada’s first coronavirus patient

The illness has sickened at least 1,975 people and killed 56 in China

Canada’s basketball community mourns Kobe Bryant after helicopter crash

Bryant was an 18-time NBA all-star who won five championships

‘Devastated’: Fans, celebrities remember Kobe Bryant after his death

Bryant played all of his 20-year career with the NBA with the Los Angeles Lakers

Kobe Bryant, daughter killed in California helicopter crash

Bryant entered the NBA draft straight out of high school in 1996

Investigation launched after six dead puppies dumped in Richmond hotel parking lot

RAPS reminds people they can always give up puppies they can’t take care of

Canadian Lunar New Year celebrations dampened by coronavirus worries

But Health Minister Patty Hajdu said today that the risk of infection is low

Man clings to roof of car driving along busy road in Maple Ridge

The man was also seen jumping on the vehicle

B.C. VIEWS: New coronavirus outbreak an important reminder

Walking the line between cautious and alarmist

Most Read