Women's advocate says not enough is being done to protect them from conjugal violence

·2 min read
Melpa Kamateros is the executive director of the Shield of Athena Family Services in Montreal.  (Rowan Kennedy/CBC - image credit)
Melpa Kamateros is the executive director of the Shield of Athena Family Services in Montreal. (Rowan Kennedy/CBC - image credit)

A woman who works with victims of conjugal violence in Montreal says she's disappointed but not surprised to learn about the death Friday of a woman in the city's Montréal-Nord borough.

A 36-year-old man appeared in court on Saturday and is facing first-degree murder charges after police discovered the body of his former spouse, 46-year-old Viergemene Toussaint, in an apartment.

While Montreal police claimed the man was not known to them, court files from July reveal that Antoine Coby is also facing assault, unlawful confinement and mischief charges in an incident that allegedly happened in May.

It's not known yet whether it involves the same woman.


"What we're finding is that we are not protecting women. Whatever is being done is being done very slowly and with a lack of efficiency," said Melpa Kamateros, executive director of the Shield of Athena Family Services.

There aren't enough services offered to women to assess the likelihood of an abusive man escalating violence, Kamateros said, or enough police safeguards to prevent stalking either.

That includes situations where an abusive partner has been caught breaching conditions meant to protect their victim.

A lot of women are also afraid to end an abusive relationship or press charges, she added.

"It's the fear of not having a father for their children, the fear of economic pressure, the fear of a lack of support at the community or family level, the fear of changing schools," said Kamateros, noting that many women believe their abusers won't be held accountable.

She also pointed to a U.K. law that allows people to contact police for the criminal record of their current partner, saying it's something that's urgently needed in Quebec.

Clare's Law came into effect in 2014 and is named after Clare Wood, a woman killed by her ex-boyfriend while unaware of his violent past. A similar law was introduced in Alberta last year.

Rowan Kennedy/CBC
Rowan Kennedy/CBC

24th homicide of 2022

Toussaint's death is the second homicide involving a woman this month in Montreal.

Mireille Boulerice lives in the same apartment building as Toussaint and was outside Saturday cleaning up a window broken by police after they kicked in a door.

"We couldn't go out, there was police everywhere," Boulerice said. "We couldn't walk around in case there were any fingerprints."

Police have said the killing is the 24th homicide in Montreal this year.