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Quebec politician joins advocates in calling for laws to combat gender-based violence

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Politicians and advocates are demanding that new laws be adopted to help fight gender-based violence as they marked International Women's Day.

The walls at Shield of Athena in Montreal, which offers resources to get women out of abusive relationships, are filled with messages of hope and new beginnings. Mothers and children who are clients created the artwork, drawing on feelings they now experience thanks to the services provided.

"Unfortunately, women, as of 2024, experience a lot of this violence, and they're basically young women," said the centre's executive director, Melpa Kamateros.

Kamateros says she has seen a surge in requests for help and an alarming increase in violence.

Since May 2020, 48 women and children have been killed in Quebec, she said.

"When we're talking about murders, we're talking about the end of a cycle of violence that quite possibly took many years to develop," Kamateros said.

The walls at Shield of Athena, which offers resources to get women out of abusive relationships, are filled with messages of hope and new beginnings. (Olivia O'Malley/CTV News)

There are growing calls to stop the cycle with some saying legislation is part of the solution

Québec solidaire MNA Ruba Ghazal wants the word femicide added to Canada's Criminal Code.

Kamateros is also calling for a new law that would make coercive control a criminal offence.

"The idea of coercive control also shows a pattern that might lead to a homicide, a murder, a femicide. It's not what we call it. It's how we can stop it that counts," she said.

The Shield of Athena is opening a second-step shelter in 2024, but it's taken the centre 15 years to get here.

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