NEWS

Sexual assaults down in 2013, but majority unreported

12/01/2014 01:12 EST | Updated 01/31/2015 05:59 EST
CBC News has learned there were 2,073 sexual assaults reported to Toronto police in 2013.

That number is down slightly compared to the year before but it is estimated only a fraction of assaults are reported.

The Toronto police are trying to change that. "We encourage the victims of any sexual assault to come forward," said Chief Bill Blair speaking publicly about the issue of sexual assault after allegations involving  former CBC host Jian Ghomeshi became public.

"I want to offer them my assurance that they will be treated with dignity and respect, that my people are well trained. I think there is just a long way to go and just time will tell."

Metrac, a group that works to end violence against women, says it will take more than promises from the police to change the stigma in reporting the crimes.

"It has to be that people get good experiences," said Metrac's Andrea Gunraj. "Then the good rumours start spreading, like, 'I went to the police and I got a great response. I got the support I needed I wasn't pressured.'"

The 2013 police statistics were gathered before a number of high profile celebrities and politicians came under scrutiny for alleged sexual assaults.

Gunraj hopes that with all the recent media attention more victims in Toronto will feel safe enough to report them.

Police are now reporting sex assaults as "violations" and include a few more crimes, such as voyeurism and luring children.

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