After three suspected femicides, Quebec expert feels work remains to reduce violence against women

On Friday night, a 34-year-old woman was stabbed and killed in Montreal. A man was arrested shortly after.

A week prior provincial police charged a 49-year-old man following the death of his spouse in Ste. Agathe des Monts after the couple’s home was allegedly set on fire Thursday night.

On Thursday morning, an elderly couple was found dead in northern Quebec with police suggesting it was a murder-suicide.

In February, police responded to find a man and woman dead in Dunham, Quebec in the Eastern Townships, whose officers suspected to be a murder-suicide.

Though Montreal police (SPVM) would not use the term, Friday’s killing is likely a femicide: the term commonly used to describe the killing of one or more females, primarily by males, because they are female.

Marie-Emmanuelle Gennesse and her sister Florence-Olivia operate the.sisofficial social media accounts on Instagram and TikTok. The sisters’ goal is to reach a broader and younger audience and draw attention to feminist issues.

Marie-Emmanuelle Gennesse, who is doing her master’s degree in feminism at Concordia University, questions why some police, officials and other people are against using the term femicide.

“Some people are not happy with the word femicide, (and) I have no idea why,” she said. “It’s not a homicide because it was a woman that was killed… There’s this barrier that some people are not comfortable to talk about. Women are killed because of their sex.”

There have been four suspected femicides in Quebec in 2022.

There were 18 suspected femicides in 2021.

Gennesse said that social media and the #metoo movement have helped to increase the visibility of the term and action to reduce femicide and other violence against women.

The Canadian Femicide Observatory for Justice and Accountability said using the term femicide “can contribute to public awareness about and reduce tolerance toward violence against women. Public awareness can be further enhanced when root causes of femicide are identified.”

Gennesse said those studying feminism and similar subjects are please that Quebec and other levels of government are talking about the issue, but more could be done.

She called Quebec’s Bill 92 creating a specialized court for sexual and domestic violence is a step in the right direction, but far from a conclusive solution to the various problems.

“I’m not sure it’s as genuine as we would hope it would be in the sense that it’s much more from pressure from the population that they have implemented these new bills,” said Gennesse, who added that only a few instances of domestic violence actually make it through the legal system and wind up in court.

The federal government’s fact sheet on inter-partner violence (IPV) says that nearly half (44 per cent) of women “reported experiencing some kind of psychological, physical or sexual abuse in the context of an intimate relationship in their lifetime.”

However, Gennesse said many of these cases are not reported and won’t wind up in court.

“We know that not even 25 per cent of all cases get reported because women fear the response their going to get and the retribution they’re going to get from their male partners afterwards,” said Gennesse. “They’re taking a huge risk for the tiny percentage of the women who tell people about it.”

She and others who study the subjects would like to see more training for those in power such as police, social workers, judges and elected officials.

For example, Gennesse pointed to Quebec Minister Responsible for the Status of Women Isabelle Charest’s training and past as lacking the proper experience needed for her post.

“(She) is not even an expert in these topics or has a background in feminist research or domestic violence and sexual violence,” said Gennesse. “It says a lot about the amount of effort that they want to put into women’s issues.”

The public, Gennesse said needs to first listen to women and avoid creating stereotypes and normalizing negative behavior towards women at a young age.

“When we tell little boys, ‘Man up!’ or when we tell little girls, ‘He’s mean to you just because he likes you,’ it creates in their brains these normalizations of tiny bits of violence that continue to be acceptable and lead to extreme cases,” she said. “It’s very important that we start early to break the stereotypes, in general, to say that it’s never acceptable.”

Leave a Comment