City councilor Raymond Cho stood in support of women against violence in Malvern, a Toronto neighbourhood with a reputation for violence. But to Cho, this image of Malvern is only an illusion, not a reality.
Two hundred women, children and men came to commemorate the 26th annual anniversary of ‘Take Back the Night’ in Malvern on Sept. 17, an event that symbolizes women’s attempts to take control of their bodies and protest against male violence. But Cho found no significant link between this event and its relevance to Malvern.
Malvern is Safe
“Malvern is no less safer than any other place,” he said. “According to police, 42 Division, Malvern is one of the three safest places in the city of Toronto. It is just the name, it is a very safe place, it is an excellent place.”
But speakers and organizers of the event felt differently.
Deb Chard, an instructor of Wen-do, a women’s self-defence course, screamed out to the crowd, “Take back the streets in Scarborough,” and the whole crowd burst into applause.
Police reports show an entirely different image from Cho’s perception.
The 42 Division was responsible for more than 400,000 people in 2005, so large that the new 43 Division was created to take some of that load.
Police statistics for 2005 show 42 Division saw the highest number of attempted murders (21) in Toronto and the second-highest number of sexual assaults (98), only three short of the highest. The division also reported the highest number of violent offences, at 4,102 cases.
Grissel Orellana, public co-ordinator of the Toronto Rape Crisis Centre, said Cho’s statements are inaccurate.
“That is not the reality. If we are going to say that Malvern is safe a community, then we need to hear it from the people who live there. And according to the people, they don’t say that,” she said.
Orellana said the city has provided a lot of support and services to Malvern, but that does not mean the area is safe yet.
“Our organization has been known to do this event for the past 26 years.” she said. “We reach out to communities where the need is most, and in Malvern there is a need.”