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Another femicide in Quebec after government invests millions into aid and prevention

MONTREAL (CityNews) — The death of a 36-year-old woman whose body was found Tuesday in the Montreal area is allegedly the 11th femicide in Quebec this year.

Zoleikha Bakhtiar was found stabbed to death in an apartment in Cote St-Luc, a suburb on the island of Montreal, police said, adding that her 35-year-old partner, Ariobarzan Bakhtiar, was arrested at the scene.

Bakhtiar was charged later on Tuesday with second-degree murder and is scheduled to return to court on July 5.

“When the police officers arrived on site, they found a woman 36 years old who had been injured in the upper body part. Sadly, the paramedic technician confirmed her death on site,” said SPVM spokesperson Julien Levesque.

Montreal police were called around midnight to respond to a stabbing on Adalbert Avenue near Earle Road. Ambulance technicians say a baby and young child were inside at the time. Authorities have taken charge of the children.

The suspect will remain in custody until his court date.

Advocate Humera Khan, president of the AMAL Centre for Women, says getting out of violent situations has been made harder by pandemic restrictions and lockdowns.

“Families and everyone is trapped at home, there’s limited outing, there’s limited accessibility to our normal lives,” said Khan.

Quebec has experienced a spate of femicides since the beginning of 2021, with an unofficial count putting the number at 11.

The deaths have helped push the provincial government to invest $223 million over five years for women’s shelters and on other programs for victims of domestic violence.

Khan stresses it’s not enough.

“We are helping the victims and the women but I think that it is high time as well that we help the men realize … the smaller problems can snowball into bigger things, such as these femicides that have been occurring,” said Khan.