The Vancouver Abolition Coalition applauds the brave women who revealed sexist attacks carried out by Detective Constable Jim Fisher. We also appreciate the officer who came forward with his/her concerns about Detective Constable Fisher. Revealing a powerful man’s sexism and violence is not an easy decision given the history of police response to women who report sexual assault. We urge the leadership of the Vancouver Police Department, including the Vancouver Police Board chaired by Mayor Gregor Robertson, to reconsider policies and practices that isolate women witnesses from independent feminist advocates. This isolation renders women and girls more vulnerable to authority figures during high stakes investigations and prosecutions.
The attacks reported to be carried out by Detective Constable Jim Fisher are not surprising and unlikely to be isolated incidents. The culture within the Vancouver Police Department has created an environment of permissiveness towards men who expect sexual access to prostituted women and girls. Detective Constable Fisher was responsible for investigating organized crime and human trafficking into the sex trade. He is especially well-informed about the latitude that the leadership of the Vancouver Police Department provides men with respect to prostituted women and girls. In 2016, the Vancouver Police Department made no arrests of men who purchase prostituted women or girls. The Vancouver Police Board refuses to recognize the enormous power difference between sex purchasers and women in prostitution – to the terrible disadvantage of women and girls targeted for prostitution recruitment.
Despite modernized laws that recognize the violence and exploitation carried out by sex-buyers, and that target them for arrest (prostituted women are mostly not criminalized), the Vancouver Police Department and the Vancouver Police Board cling to outdated and sexist policies that defend male entitlement to prostituted women. The invention of police-run public relations projects, such as the failed Sister Watch program in the downtown Eastside, consolidates police power over women in prostitution and hides police inaction on pimping and sex-buyers.
The Vancouver Abolition Coalition calls on the Vancouver Police Board to act on the analysis, articulated in the preamble of the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act (in effect December 5, 2014), that prostitution is deeply exploitative, sexist, and racist. We call on the Vancouver Police Board and Chief Constable to address the culture of sexism and racism that likely fostered Detective Fisher’s sense of entitlement to sexual access of women and girls whose rights he is supposed to defend. New policies, protocols, and modern leadership is needed to ensure that policing of male violence against women avoids delivering women and girls into the hands of yet another, different set of exploiters.
Members of Vancouver Abolition Coalition:
The Aboriginal Women's Action Network (AWAN)
The Asian Women Coalition Ending Prostitution
EVE (formerly Exploited Voices now Educating)
Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter
Foy Allison Law