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)

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

Kent Harrison Search and Rescue brought a man to safety, and awaiting paramedics, after a 20-foot fall down an embankment on Jan. 23, 2020, on Harrison West Forest Service Road. (Kent Harrison Search and Rescue photo)
Rescue crew lifts man up 20-foot embankment near Harrison Lake

Kent Harrison Search and Rescue says this is the fifth call already this year

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. (Graeme Roy/The Canadian Press)
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of Jan. 24

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

A mallard duck swims through Salish Pond in Chilliwack on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
WEATHER: Snow, rain in forecast for Fraser Valley

Fraser Valley has been treated to more than a week of mostly sunny weather, but it’s about to end

sd
VIDEO: Mission drag racer scores 1st career win, sets world record, makes history in 2020

Justin Bond, founder and owner of JBS Equipment, hits milestones in break-out year

A video posted to social media by Chilliwack resident Rob Iezzi shows a teenager getting kicked in the face after being approached by three suspects on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (YouTube/Rob i)
VIDEO: Security cameras capture ‘just one more assault’ near Chilliwack secondary

Third high-school related assault Rob Iezzi’s cameras have captured since beginning of 2021

Terrance Josephson of the Princeton Posse, at left, and Tyson Conroy of the Summerland Steam clash during a Junior B hockey game at the Summerland Arena in the early spring of 2020. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Test your knowledge of Canada’s national winter sport

A woman injects herself with crack cocaine at a supervised consumption site Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Drug users at greater risk of dying as services scale back in second wave of COVID-19

It pins the blame largely on a lack of supports, a corrupted drug supply

Wet’suwet’en supporters and Coastal GasLink opponents continue to protest outside the B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, February 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
‘We’re still in it’: Wet’suwet’en push forward on rights recognition

The 670-km Coastal GasLink pipeline was approved by B.C. and 20 elected First Nations councils on its path

Jennifer Cochrane, a Public Health Nurse with Prairie Mountain Health in Virden, administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Robert Farquhar with Westman Regional Laboratory, during the first day of immunizations at the Brandon COVID-19 vaccination supersite in Brandon, Man., on Monday, January 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tim Smith - POOL
Top doctor urges Canadians to keep up with COVID measures, even as vaccines roll out

More than 776,606 vaccines have been administered so far

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

From the left: Midway RCMP Csts. Jonathan Stermscheg and Chris Hansen, Public Servant Leanne Mclaren and Cpl. Phil Peters. Pictured in the front are Mclaren’s dog, Lincoln and Peters’ dog, Angel. Photo courtesy of BC RCMP
B.C. Mounties commended for bringing firewood to elderly woman

Cpl. Phil Peters said he and detachment members acted after the woman’s husband went to hospital

Dr. Jerome Leis and Dr. Lynfa Stroud are pictured at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto on Thursday, January 21, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
‘It wasn’t called COVID at the time:’ One year since Canada’s first COVID-19 case

The 56-year-old man was admitted to Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

Most Read