'It's a public health issue': protesters demand government action after Quebec's 14th femicide of 2021
MONTREAL -- Following the fourteenth killing of a woman in Quebec so far this year, a rally was held in Montreal on Friday to protest “the pandemic of femicide” that is gripping the province.
Dolores Chew, executive council member of the South Asian Women's Community Centre, the organization that put together the event, said that the killing of women has long gone on, but has seen an uptick this year.
“Just as everyone is now very aware of pandemics and how they spread and how it affects many people in multiple generations. We have to work collectively to stop it. It's not a women's problem, it's a societal problem. It's a public health issue,” she said.
The rally was called after the death of 32-year-old Rajinder Prabhneed Kaur on July 19. On Thursday, the body of Kaur's husband, who was a suspect in the murder, was pulled from the Riviere des Prairies after a days-long manhunt by police.
With 14 femicides in seven months, 2021 is on pace to surpass the number in the previous year, when 21 women were killed in the province. In 2019, 11 women were murdered by men in Quebec.
Chew said word of Kaur's death left members of her organization “shocked” and “numbed.”
“Unfortunately, it's not the first time this has happened. Not just in our South Asian community but in the wider community. We're really saddened, we're upset. We're also kind of angry that politicians and governments say a lot of things and they might throw a couple of million dollars here and there. But the systemic and institutional roots that leads to femicide and set up these hierarchies and powers and inequalities... seem to be permissive of certain kinds of things that wouldn't happen if anybody else was randomly attacked on the streets.”
She added that there are barriers to domestic abuse being reported that are exacerbated in some cultural communities, such as linguistic issues and that the government must do more to address those problems.
“We need much more money to start off with. It's peanuts if you look at the province of Quebec. We need more shelters, we need more second-state shelters, but also a concerted effort to address gender-based violence. You start with education from the lowest rungs in kindergarten and upwards.”