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Police warning women in Vancouver about a rise in sexual assaults

Last Updated Mar 21, 2016 at 7:42 pm PDT

(iStock Photo)

Police do not believe a string of sexual assaults are connected

Local women's group says women shouldn't ever be blamed after string of sexual assaults

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Women in Vancouver are being warned to walk in pairs and be aware of their surroundings following a recent bump in violent sex assaults.

The most recent attack happened Friday night at about 11:00 pm.

“A woman was walking home in the area of West 48th Avenue and Oak Street, she was grabbed from behind by a stranger and assaulted, explains Sergeant Randy Fincham with the VPD. “We believe that assault was sexual in nature. She wasn’t physically injured but obviously she was very traumatized with what happened to her.”

Fincham notes police are taking this very seriously and have put many resources towards the investigation. “We are talking about sexual assaults with some level of violence, above what we traditionally see with gropings in Vancouver, so we would associate those differently. We are talking about a series of serious violent sexual assaults.”

Other similar attacks have been reported in East Vancouver as well as near 16th, with a 16-year-old boy arrested in one of those cases.

Police do not believe the attacks in separate areas are connected, based on suspect descriptions and there are no obvious similarities between victims.

This comes after Burnaby RCMP put together a task force to deal with a string of recent sexual assaults.

The Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter‘s Samantha Grey says women are already doing all they can.

“No matter what time of night that we’re walking home, no matter how we’re dressed, or the route that we go, it’s not those decisions that end up in us being attacked. What it is, is the men who rape us. That’s what determines that happening.”

Grey says it’s good the police have been quick to issue warnings but reminds that most of the 1,200 calls the centre gets every year are not from stranger attacks.

“Women already take the steps necessary to keep themselves safe and what police should be doing is telling men to not rape us.”