Facebook photo of alleged sexual assault on Canada Line sparks larger conversation

The photo that was uploaded to Facebook.
The photo that was uploaded to Facebook. UBC Confessions

When a young woman named Kathy posted a photo and description of a recent sexual assault on a Canada Line to a popular Facebook group last week, she hoped it would motivate the victim to come forward.

READ MORE: Facebook photo of alleged sexual assault on SkyTrain goes viral

But she also hoped it would spark a broader conversation about sex crimes on transit systems.

“This happens more often than a lot of people think, and it’s something we should all be aware of,” she told Global News.

READ MORE: Why don’t victims or bystanders report sexual assault?

Her actions have already had an impact. Less than 48 hours after she posted her note, Transit Police spokeswoman Anne Drennan told Global News a woman reported being groped on the Canada Line after seeing media reports of Thursday’s incident.

Story continues below advertisement

It happened on crowded train at around 7:20 a.m. Friday near Bridgeport Station in Richmond, B.C. In Friday’s incident, Drennan says the suspect moved behind the victim and groped her leg and buttocks until she exited the train at Broadway-City Hall Station in Vancouver.

Breaking news from Canada and around the world sent to your email, as it happens.

While Transit Police investigate whether there’s a possible connection between the recent assaults, some say it’s a wake-up call to what can often happen on public transit without anybody knowing.

“If you go into a room full of women, and ask if they’ve had something like that happen, most hands go up,” said Alexa Dredge. She helped create a website called “Harassment on TransLink” so that people could speak out about their experiences.

“There’s a lot of self-doubt with people reporting, because they don’t feel like it warrants attention or they’re not sure. When people do come forward, often time they aren’t taken very seriously, or the onus is on them to prove it was worth reporting.”

For their part, Transit Police say there were 146 sexual offences reported last year, but that’s only estimated to be a tenth or less of the real number.

Story continues below advertisement

– With files from The Canadian Press

Sponsored content