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

Lavender hand sanitizer sale raises cash for Fraser Valley Health Care Foundation

Golf course and lavender farm partner up to support health care in the Fraser Valley

Donations of fresh produce sought from Chilliwack backyard gardeners

Hamper program from Chilliwack Citizens for Change to serve those with special dietary needs

Historic threshermen’s site set to re-open this weekend in Chilliwack

‘It’s a huge test run for us to see how it all works,’ says Atchelitz Threshermen’s Association president

Spadina Avenue is being reconstructed from Corbould to Ashwell

Fewer parking stalls in the street but the Curling Club parking expansion will compensate

UPDATE: Former Chilliwack city councillor’s breach of trust case resolved using ‘alternative measures’

Charges dropped against Sam Waddington who faced two counts from 2017 related to allegations

B.C. records new COVID-19 death, 85 more cases; Horgan calls on celebrity help

This brings the total number of active confirmed cases to 531 across the province

Horvat scores 2 as Vancouver Canucks beat Blues 5-2 in NHL playoff opener

Game 2 in best-of-seven series goes Friday night

Teachers to get 2 extra days to prepare for students’ return, now set for Sept. 10

Students will first start with orientation and learn rules of COVID-19 classroom policies

High-volume littering at Cape Scott draws ire from hiking groups

Popular Vancouver Island hiking spot not closing, but frustration about crowding grows

SFU to drop ‘Clan’ varsity team name

The ‘Clan’ name is shortened from ‘Clansmen,’ and was introduced roughly 55 years ago

BCSPCA partners with Crime Stoppers

Many call in to the SPCA, but want to remain anonymous: Eccles

New Tory leader must build a strong team in Commons and for the campaign: Scheer

Scheer marked his final day in the House of Commons today as leader of the Opposition

B.C. to hire 500 more COVID-19 contact tracers ahead of fall

Contract tracers add an ‘extra layer’ in the fight against the novel coronavirus

Feds commit $305M in additional funds for Indigenous communities during COVID-19

Money can be used to battle food insecurity and support children and mental health

Most Read