The Canadian city of Vancouver is celebrating a poster campaign that has seen a reduction in the recorded level of sexual assaults in the city.

Whilst the overall crime rate in the city has dropped every year over the past decade, there has been a worrying increase in sexual offences. Police have linked the highest levels of sexual assaults to areas in which prostitutes are known to operate. Strathcona, for example, had the highest number of recorded sexual offences between 2008 and 2010. Deputy Chief LePard also attributed these high levels to “intoxicated young women who were vulnerable and lured by a predator”.

Work to reduce these worrying statistics included the “Don’t be that guy” poster campaign, beginning in the summer of 2011 in cities throughout Canada. A series of posters were placed in bars and clubs around Vancouver, including one featuring a young woman seemingly unconscious on a sofa, surrounded by wine bottles. Eye-catching text notes “Just because she isn’t saying no doesn’t mean she is saying yes. Sex without consent = sexual assault. Don’t Be That Guy”. To see the posters click here. The graphic posters speak directly to a male audience, making the safety of women their responsibility.

Deputy Chief LePard believes the campaign has made an important contribution to the encouraging change in sexual assault statistics in the area. The rate dropped in 2011 by around ten percent, which represents a fundamental reversal of
recent trends. The poster campaigns are not an isolated effort, and were accompanied by other public information campaigns and better training for police officers encompassing more efficient investigation and enforcement.