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

The driver of a pickup truck failed to stop after knocking down a wooden fence on March 3, 2021. (screen grab)
VIDEO: Footage catches pick-up driver smash fence on Abbotsford/Langley border

Driver came forward after video circulated on social media

Do you have an opinion you’d like to share? Write or email your letter. You can also submit letters and story tips through our website. (Pixabay)
LETTER: Langley resident laments loss of housing dreams for youth

Canadians have to rethink about equality in light of economic disparities

Free Reformed Church is seen as people attend service, in Chilliwack, B.C., on Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021. Lawyers for the British Columbia government and the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms are back in B.C. Supreme Court today, squaring off over the legality of COVID-19 rules that prohibit in-person religious services. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. top doctor has power to restrict access to a place during health hazard: lawyer

Under B.C.’s Public Health Act, Jacqueline Hughes says, Henry can restrict or prevent entry to a place

A memorial to Hudson Brooks grew quickly outside the South Surrey RCMP detachment following his July 2015 death at the hands of police. (File photo)
Inquest yields ‘sliver of justice’ for South Surrey’s Hudson Brooks: brother

Beau Brooks says he’s not optimistic call for increased RCMP training will bear fruit

A local reader expresses his opposition to the government carbon tax. (Crystal Schick/Black Press Media)
LETTER: Langley man argues carbon tax talk was all hot air

Emissions have risen and it’s costing more for Canadians, a local letter writer contends

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C. on the COVID-19 situation. (B.C. government)
Dr. Bonnie Henry predicts a ‘post-pandemic world’ for B.C. this summer

‘Extending this second dose provides very high real-world protection to more people, sooner’

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

Malawian police guard AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines after the shipment arrived in Lilongwe, Malawi, Friday March 5, 2021. Canada is expecting its first shipments of AstraZeneca vaccine next week. (Associated Press/Thoko Chikondi)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 cases climb to 634 Friday, four more deaths

Currently 255 people in hospital, 66 in intensive care

A crashed helicopter is seen near Mt. Gardner on Bowen Island on Friday March 5, 2021. Two people were taken to hospital in serious but stable condition after the crash. (Irene Paulus/contributed)
2 people in serious condition after helicopter goes down on Bowen Island

Unclear how many passengers aboard and unclear where the helicopter was going

Surrey Pretrial in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. transgender inmate to get human rights hearing after being held in mostly male jail

B.C. Human Rights Tribunal member Amber Prince on March 3 dismissed the pretrial’s application to have Makayla Sandve’s complaint dismissed

Supporters rally outside court as Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church is in court to appeal bail conditions, after he was arrested for holding day services in violation of COVID-19 rules, in Edmonton, Alta., on Thursday March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
‘Law remains valid:’ Pastor accused of violating health orders to remain in jail

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is representing the pastor

The Netflix logo on an iPhone. B.C. delayed imposing sales tax on digital services and sweetened carbonated beverages as part of its response to COVID-19. Those taxes take effect April 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Matt Rourke
B.C. applies 7% sales tax on streaming, vaping, sweet drinks April 1

Measures from 2020 budget were delayed due to COVID-19

Chief Don Tom of the Tsartlip First Nation was outraged after Green MLA Adam Olsen revealed on social media that the community had been experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak – a fact the First Nation had chosen to keep private to avoid racist backlash as experienced by the Cowichan Tribes when an outbreak was declared there in January. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation ‘outraged’ after Green MLA reveals COVID-19 outbreak

Tsartlip First Nation chief shares concerns about racist backlash, MLA apologizes

A lawyer wears a face mask and gloves to curb the spread of COVID-19 while waiting to enter B.C. Supreme Court, in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, Aug. 28, 2020. British Columbia’s highest court has sided with the land owner in a dispute over public access to public land. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. high court finds in favour of large landowner in fight over access to pair of lakes

The Nicola Valley Fish and Game Club launched legal action after the cattle company blocked road and trail access

Most Read