Thursday November 25 is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
To mark the occasion, and to draw attention to what they say is a growing concern, a group of women gathered outside the Henri Bourassa metro station in Montreal’s Ahuntsic district.
They wanted people to talk.
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“To talk about the issues that are not discussed,” said Sara Eldabaa, one of the protesters. “Subjects that are hidden under the rug because they are considered taboo”.
She and the others said the problem is getting worse, not better, despite the millions of dollars promised in resources.
“All the women’s shelters say so,” said Mélanie Ederer, president of the Quebec Women’s Federation. “Women are even more trapped at home with less access to information, to people, to resources.”
This year has been particularly alarming, he said.
At least 17 women in the province have been killed by intimate partner violence.
Montreal police refuse to confirm that the case of a woman whose body was found with a man in an apartment on Fairmont Avenue in early November was a femicide. That would bring the femicide count to 18.
Still, protesters point to the pandemic as one of the reasons for the increase in domestic assault against women this year, and say people are stressed.
“When people are stressed, it’s easy to blame women and attack women when people are already angry,” Ederer said.
Political leaders echo that sentiment.
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In a statement, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that “since the COVID-19 outbreak, rates of gender-based violence have increased worldwide. The social and economic impact of the public health emergency has resulted in a shadow pandemic. “
The women who met in front of Henri Bourassa noted that some women are at higher risk.
“Racialized people, marginalized people, people living on the outskirts of the city center are more vulnerable,” Fatima Terhini, a protester, told Global News.
The first step in combating the problem, Eldabaa said, is to recognize it more strongly.
“It is also taboo because it is very personal to talk about your partner beating you physically or refusing to give you money or manipulating you psychologically,” he told Global News.
The group plans to push the conversation for 12 days until the anniversary of the École Polytechnique massacre, on December 6.
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