Vancouver police have unveiled a provocative and graphic new campaign to combat sexual assaults — aimed directly at the potential male offenders.
Entitled "Don't Be That Guy," the campaign uses a series of four posters that are being put up in mens' washrooms in clubs and bars throughout the city.
One says, "Sex without consent is assault." Another says, "Just because she's drunk, it doesn't mean she wants to f**k."
"The VPD and its partners are taking proactive measures to increase the safety of women in Vancouver to reduce alcohol- and drug-fuelled sexual violence," said Sgt. Matt Clarke at the program launch, staged in a Granville Street bar early Friday.
One of the police partners in the campaign is Battered Women's Support Services.
"We want to make visible the role that men have in ending violence against women and this campaign is directed at men," said spokeswoman Angela Marie MacDougall. "It's directed at young men between the ages of 18 and 25."
Sex assaults on increase
Police say the number of sexual assaults on women went up 10 per cent in Vancouver over one year to 617 reported cases in 2010.
MacDougall thinks that's just a fraction of actual offences.
"That 600 represents, I think [as] an educated guess...10 per cent," she said.
The campaign targets men willing to have sex with partners too inebriated to say yes or no.
About half the sexual assault victims treated at Women's Hospital were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the offence, said spokeswoman Wendy Potter.
"Often what happens is that the men who commit these types of assaults are relying on that woman to blame herself," said Potter.
Ariana Barer, of Women Against Violence Against Women, said the direct message of the "Don't Be That Guy" campaign could help make men think twice.
"That'll be just something that we'll plant in their mind as a seed and they'll think about it later," said Barer. "Maybe it'll cause them to start questioning their behaviour and the behaviour of others around them."
Similar campaigns aimed at men were launched in Edmonton last winter and in Ottawa in May.