Hanes: Three femicides in two weeks, and what are we doing about it?

Violence against women and children has barely registered as an electoral issue.


Residents of a high-rise building in Brossard were woken by a fire alarm in the early hours of Sunday morning, but what they saw after evacuating their units around 1 a.m. was far worse than the smoke and flames.

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Firefighters responding to the call found an unconscious woman and two young children in the apartment where the fire started. But they soon suspected that the casualties had little to do with the fire.


Neighbors told the media that during the drama they captured harrowing footage of paramedics trying to revive the boys, ages 5 and 2, as they were taken to a hospital, where they later died.

Police arrested the woman’s spouse and the father of the two children at the scene. Longueuil police later confirmed that a triple homicide had taken place. Mohammad Al Ballouz, 36, He was charged Monday with two counts of first-degree murder, one count of second-degree murder and arson of his hospital bed where he was recovering from minor injuries.

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At least one organization that works with victims of spousal violence lamented Synthia Bussière, ta 38-year-old mother, like the one from Quebec latest femicide.

Tragically, terrifyingly, this is the third femicide in the Montreal metropolitan area in two weeks.

On Sept. 16, Viergemene Toussaint, 42, was found dead in her apartment on Lacordaire Blvd. by a friend who became concerned when she couldn’t be reached. Antoine Coby, 36, who is now charged with her murder, was Toussaint’s ex-boyfriend, according to Montreal police.

On September 8, Gisèle Ital Betondi was stabbed in the parking lot in front of her LaSalle home, while putting two of her three young children in the car to take them to day care. Her estranged husband, Hosea Amorus Puhya, has been charged with first degree murder.

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The latest murders bring the total number of femicides in Quebec so far in 2022 to 10. In 2021, 17 of 26 women killed in the province were killed by a current or former partner. For the purpose of highlighting the horrific nature of this social scourge, femicide is more appropriate than common-use conjugal/family/domestic violence. These euphemistic terms minimize the seriousness of such crimes, especially when two children have paid the price of this social scourge with their own lives and three others, including a baby, have lost their mother.

With an election campaign underway, party leaders have reacted to the spate of senseless deaths by expressing sadness. Leader of the Coalition Avenir Québec Francois Legault tweeted that the latest incident “breaks my heart” and shared the contact information for SOS Violencia Conjugale, available at 1-800-363-9010. Liberal leader Dominique Anglade, the only woman to head a Quebec political party today, was quick to express her outrage at the earlier killings.

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However, violence against women and children has hardly registered as an electoral issue. Quebecers should be outraged by the series of femicides and demand answers.

Despite all the awareness of the rising death toll, the carnage has continued. Statistics suggest that one in three women will experience an abusive relationship in her lifetime, yet society is constantly shocked when violence spills out behind closed doors. Other data suggests that women are at higher risk of dying when trying to leave a toxic relationship.

Are there enough programs to provide support during breakups? Economic resources have been added to find shelters and help lines, but are they enough? More must be done to prevent these tragedies.

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In Betondi’s case, the young mother’s aunt and cousin he told La Presse she was trapped in a vicious circle from which it was difficult for her to escape. Although her husband was charged with abuse and later arrested for violating court conditions, he was ultimately acquitted of making a threat when Betondi ended up testifying in his defense at trial.

Would a new legal program established to help classify domestic violence cases have made a difference? Survivors often speak of a justice system stacked against them, including courts that do not consider intimate partner violence in shared custody and parenting arrangements.

A Coroner’s report on the murder of two Montreal boys by his father in 2019 recommended that the entire health and social services sector be mobilized to communicate better. Coroner Stéphanie Gamache said a suicidal Jonathan Pomares should never have been released from a psychiatric institution before he killed 7-year-old Hugo and 5-year-old Élise by hanging himself and leaving his wife to make the traumatic discovery. .

Were warning signs missed in recent murders? Did the systems fail? Will people see the danger before it’s too late?

Bussière and his children deserve to be remembered and mourned by mobilizing all necessary resources to counter a devastating epidemic.

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