MONTREAL -- In what police believe is the 11th suspected case of femicide this year, a 35-year-old Montreal man was charged Tuesday with second-degree murder in the death of his wife in Côte Saint-Luc. 

Ariobarzan Bakhtiar appeared at the Montreal courthouse to face the murder charge after Zoleikha Bakhtiar, 36, was killed overnight in an apartment building on Adalbert Avenue, near Earle Road.

"The information we have .. and our investigators will analyse all that .. is that they were in a marital relationship," said Montreal police spokesperson Julien Lévesque.

The accused will remain in custody and is due back in court on July 5. 

Police say they received a 911 call at midnight about a woman who had been attacked.

"When the police arrived, a woman was found injured by a sharp object," said Montreal police spokesperson Caroline Chévrefils. "Her death was pronounced at the scene."

She notes two children were in the apartment at the time.

Chévrefils confirmed this is Montreal's ninth homicide of 2021.

The 11 cases of suspected femicide this year have prompted the Quebec government to act, funding a five-year, $222-million action plan to combat violence against women.

The funds will finance shelters, support organizations that help violent men and improve police and judicial services offered to victims of domestic violence in court.

Groups who work with victims of conjugal violence say they were upset by the latest alleged case of femicide.

"There are no words to describe our reaction. We are extremely sad and it shows the reality of what intimate partner violence is, how dangerous it can be," said Claudine Thibaudeau, a social worker with SOS Violence Conjugale, a group that works with victims of domestic violence. "It puts forth the reality of the fear of the victims of violence, that it's a valid fear."

Stay-at-home measures due to COVID-19 have put the matter into the spotlight, notes Melpa Kamateros with Shield of Athena Family Services.

"The pandemic is something that has reinforced… underlying situations that were there in the past, and that continue to be there," she said. "This problem, it does not seem to be going away anytime soon."

- With files from The Canadian Press and CTV News Montreal's Amanda Kline and Stéphane Giroux.