The family of Rebekah Harry, Quebec’s seventh femicide victim in seven weeks, is calling on Montrealers to come out and march to denounce domestic violence.
“These women will not die in vain,” said Harry’s brother, Teddy Frennette, speaking to reporters on Monday.
Frenette said his family is organizing a march on Saturday beginning at Cabot Square at 5:30 p.m., with the aim to raise awareness on the province’s increasingly alarming issue that advocates and mental health workers say is exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Harry was brought to hospital in critical condition on Saturday, March 20, after being domestically assaulted inside an apartment in Montreal’s LaSalle borough. She died three days later.
She was the mother to a nine-year-old son. She was 29.
Brandon McIntyre, her 32-year-old partner and suspect in her killing, is in police custody. He has been charged with second-degree murder.
McIntyre was initially charged with aggravated assault and breach of conditions, but the assault charge was upgraded to second-degree murder on Friday.
“She was violently beaten by a man she gave all her love to,” her brother said.
Frennette said his sister will be remembered for her “big infectious smile,” for being the life of the party and for being a loving mother to her son.
He added that her family will start a non-profit foundation in her honour set to help victims of domestic violence.
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Advocates say the pandemic’s confinement measures have made the issue of domestic violence even worse for victims, being stuck at home with controlling, abusive partners, feeling more isolated and possibly feel they have fewer options with regards to seeking help.
“If you are suffering from violence, call for help,” Harry’s brother said.
This comes as Quebec’s SOS Violence Conjugale launched a social media campaign Sunday following the death of the seven women in less than two months.
The group partnered with the Web Locomotive agency to produce a series of graphic messages that can be shared on Facebook, Instagram, and other social media accounts.
“To feel constrained, restricted, controlled, watched … It’s violence. I’m here for you,” and, “seven femicides in seven weeks #pasundeplus” are among the messages made available to the public on the organization’s website, sosviolenceconjugale.ca.
The group says it is launching the appeal so that the public mobilizes in support of victims of domestic violence.
SOS Violence Conjugale says it has observed an increase in the need for its services since the start of the pandemic.
In the past year, the organization received over 7,000 more calls compared to the previous year. The average number of daily calls has reached over 200, up from last year’s average of 90 calls per day.
–with files from the Canadian Press and Annabelle Olivier, Global News