Montrealers gathered at Parc-Extension Metro Friday to denounce intimate partner violence amid the wave of slain women in Quebec.
Organized by the South Asian Women's Community Centre (SAWCC), the rally comes in the wake of the killing of Rajinder Prabhneed Kaur, 32, in Parc-Extension — or Park Ex, as it is known to many Montrealers.
"It's not a women's problem. It's a societal problem. It's a public health issue," Dolores Chew, executive council member of the SAWCC, said. "Unfortunately this is not the first time that this has happened, not just in our South Asian communities but the wider community."
"We need to grieve but we also need to say that we have to work collectively to do something about it."
Although police don't know the exact circumstances of Kaur's death, they believe her partner, Navdeep Sign Ghotra, 30, killed her.
Officers found Kaur's body in a home on Birnam Street on July 19, after receiving a 911 call at around 5 p.m. Ghotra's body was pulled from the Rivière des Prairies earlier this week.
Around 40 people, including Samiha Hossain, a volunteer with Comité d'action Parc-Extension (CAPE), the neighbourhood housing committee, marched by Kaur's apartment to draw attention to her death.
"We need to remember those we have lost throughout the years," she said. "But also be there in solidarity for those that should be [at the march] with us but aren't because they are suffering in silence."
Counc. Mary Deros says she was shocked to find out the homicide happened blocks away from her house.
"I am very much concerned that today in 2021, we have a lot more cases about abuse," she said. "It's also verbal abuse that leaves, unfortunately, markings in women's minds ... it's not visible, but it's very demeaning and they carry this for the rest of their lives."
Legislation is essential
For advocate and domestic abuse survivor Svetlana Chernienko, only legislative changes could significantly protect potential victims of intimate partner violence.
Chernienko says authorities should psychologically evaluate abusers and keep them in custody for 90 days to ensure they're ready to be reintegrated into society — and to respect restraining orders.
"If they have psychological problems...you're releasing this person to go back out and do worse," she said. "They're not going to abide by the laws. If the laws were stronger from that point, I think somebody will think about going even further."
Chernienko, who also led the march for Rebekah Harry, a 29-year old woman whose partner has been charged in her death in the spring, says it's disheartening to see the lack of government response on the legal front to protect women.
"Putting together these services and programs and giving money — it's not enough," she said. "We need to change it at that [legislative] level so we don't have anymore women die."