Friday, September 14, 2007

Advance Media Release for Take Back the Night

Guelph Marks 20 Years of Take Back the Night, But Sexualized Violence Persists In Community

Thursday, September 20th, at 6 pm, Guelphites will gather at Marianne’s Park, to take part in a rally and march to raise awareness about sexualized violence against women and children. Women in Belgium started Take Back the Night in 1976. At the International Tribunal on Crimes Against Women, they walked at night in a group to demonstrate against the violence that pervades women’s lives. In Guelph, Take Back the Night has been happening for over 20 years. “Every individual must realise that violence against women affects the entire community, and it must stop,” says Sly Castaldi, Executive Director of Guelph-Wellington Women in Crisis. “The existence of violence against women undermines the ability of our community to evolve and grow in a positive manner”.

In 2006, a record 927 domestic violence incidents were reported to Guelph Police—an average of 2.5 incidents per day. Since 1997, Guelph Police recorded an average of 620 domestic violence incidents each year. Ontario university campuses are still reeling from high-profile sexual assaults at Carleton and York Universities. Over the last 10 years, Guelph Police have received an average of 66 sexual assault complaints each year—an average amount of more than one complaint a week. However, the vast majority of sexual assaults will never be reported to the police.

The Take Back the Night rally will feature activities for children, crafts, and face painting. Anishnabeg Outreach members will be drumming and singing for the opening of the event. The speaker is Mary Lou Smoke, a cultural counselor with the Sisters in Spirit Campaign to raise awareness about the high rates of violence against Aboriginal women in Canada. “We invited Mary Lou Smoke to speak for our 20th commemoration of Take Back the Night in Guelph, because since 1987, approximately 500 Aboriginal women have gone missing in Canada,” explains Zhaleh Afshar, Public Educator at Guelph-Wellington Women in Crisis. “The Sisters In Spirit Campaign and other groups like Amnesty International have noticed how little attention has been paid to these vanished women”.

Take Back the Night is coordinated by Guelph-Wellington Women in Crisis, and several community partners and volunteer members, including the Ontario Public Interest Research Group, the Care and Treatment Centre for Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence of the Guelph General Hospital, and the Human Rights Office of the Central Students Association of the University of Guelph. For more information, please visit the Take Back the Night Guelph Blog at

Media Contact:
Zhaleh Afshar
Public Educator, Guelph-Wellington Women in Crisis
(519) 826-4771 or (519) 836-1110 Website: