Barbara Kay: Action on Honour Killings.

From The National Post

Barbara Kay: Action on honour killings

July 12, 2010 – 4:20 pm

Muhammad Shan Parvez and Waqas Parvez

Nathan Denette / National Post

Muhammad Shan Parvez, left, and Waqas Parvez — brothers of murderer teenager Aqsa Parvez — leave a Brampton, Ont., courthouse on Dec. 14, 2007.

The Minister for Status of Women, Rona Ambrose, gave a press conference today on “culturally-driven violence and so-called ‘honour crimes.’ ” The occasion prompting her remarks was the official release of a position paper on the growing problem of culturally driven violence in Canada’s immigrant communities by the Frontier Centre for Public Policy, the subject of my July 7th column.

The report, Culturally-Driven Violence Against Women: A growing problem in Canada’s immigrant communities, was written by Aruna Papp, a counsellor to immigrant men and women caught up in domestic conflicts. Ms Papp, an immigrant from India who herself suffered a great deal of culturally-related abuse, has emerged as an expert on South Asian cultural gender roles and honour/shame-related behaviours. Ms Papp has written about the subject of culturally-driven violence in the National Post.

Reflecting opinions expressed in the report, the minister endorsed Ms Papp’s most important points, emphasizing, with regard to honour killings, “These heinous acts cannot be justified by cultural relativism or excused under the guise of political correctness.”

This government has shown commendably strong leadership in acknowledging the troubling facts around the abuse of girls and women in certain immigrant communities, an acknowledgement that made its way into the 2009 guidebook for immigrants, Discover Canada: The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship. The guidebook does not shrink from unpleasant truths, stating that such barbaric cultural practices as honour killings and genital mutilation have no legitimate claims for tolerance in Canada.

For many years, as Ms. Ambrose agreed in a telephone interview after her conference, the problem was obscured by conflation of such acts under the heading of “domestic violence” or “domestic homicide.” But culturally-driven violence against girls and women, she recognizes, represents a “new dynamic,” one that is totally distinct from what we call “domestic violence.”

Domestic violence, or “Intimate Partner Violence (IPV),” as the latter name more precisely defines it, is a problem between two adults — both heterosexual and homosexual — who have difficulty dealing with intimacy issues and lash out at their partners. The violence may be initiated by either party, and carries no ideological implications. The problem is not cultural, but psychological in origin, and, however distressing to those who are its victims, is neither a collective problem nor the result of systemic misogynistic values in Canadian culture.

Honour-related abuse, on the other hand, is a collective problem, because it is based in cultural values adhered to by whole communities. Those abused, almost invariably female, and most often daughters (not a feature of western domestic violence), are the victims of a conspiracy, sanctioned and facilitated throughout a network of kinship collaboration.

Unlike IPV, honour crimes are meant to serve as a warning to other females. Where an IPV victim suffers no repercussions in seeking out resources for protection and guidance in liberating herself from an abusive situation, immigrant women are often afraid — and with good reason, as we saw in the case of teenaged Aqsa Parvez — to seek help. Brainwashed from birth into a self-sacrificing mindset, and with no allies within their kinship group, they typically submit to a system they find too complex and overwhelming to resist.

Minister Ambrose singled out for praise the work of the Punjabi Community Health Services in Mississauga, whose courageous director, Baldev Mutta, like the equally outspoken Aruna Papp, often finds himself in the crosshairs of South Asian religious leaders and pundits for his frank exposure of this form of cultural dysfunction.

Minister Ambrose made it clear that what she calls a “new and emerging challenge” is taken very seriously by the government: Many of the report’s 14 recommendations are already part of government policy. She cited such practices already in progress as interventions in the country of origin and again upon entry to make sure families understand Canada’s unequivocal commitment to values of gender equality and every family member’s individual right to decide her or his own life trajectory.

Leaders in the target communities — imams, other religious clerics, teachers, political players — must step up to the plate in rooting out retrograde cultural practices, and they will be encouraged in that direction. Ms. Ambrose says the important thing now is to make sure that the social service and law enforcement agents handling cases of cultural abuse have the education for this specific form of social work, and can deal with the “extensive family involvement” that tends to “insulate” girls and women from the outreach on offer.

In cultures where honour and shame are the driving force between the sexes and between parents and children, the happiness (at best) and even the very lives of girls and women are constantly at risk. Honour-shame abuse in Canada must end. Our first obligation is to acknowledge that it exists, our second is to acknowledge that it is culturally driven and not western “domestic violence,” and our third is to lend vocal support to this government’s moral clarity in combating it.

National Post
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5 Replies to “Barbara Kay: Action on Honour Killings.”

  1. I am proud of the Canadian government for considering it an obligation to acknowledge the existence of a culturally-based oppressive society in our midst. As Canadians, we enjoy the mosaic of cultures in our country, but the perpetuation and implementation of archaic barbaric abuse is something we should all be repelled by and stand up against. I hope there will never be another time that this country entertains the thought of implementing any form of sharia law which it did in 2005.

  2. Christine,

    I too support the government’s effort to speak out against honour killings and am also repelled by such brutal cultural acts. I would also like to comment to your last statement, a statement I feel that although heartfelt, is incorrect.

    “I hope there will never be another time that this country entertains the thought of implementing any form of sharia law which it did in 2005”.

    Most believe this : that the ‘go’ at sharia was a one time prospect, quashed by the provincial government. Nothing could be further from the truth. Sharia was never quashed; as a matter of fact, it is alive, well and fully operational in Ontario. The McGuinty government took a public stand when there was an outcry ensuring us that there was no place for sharia in our society. But the fact is, is that sharia is practiced all over Ontario by Muslims and is also common in other parts of the country. The call for sharia in Canada by Muslims in 2005 would have only put the cherry on a cake that has already been baked and iced. We still have the cake, albeit not openly recognized as the baked good it is.

    Sharia is not just about ‘culturally relative religious arbitration’ as most believed in 2005 and still think. The Islamists behind the move tried to project sharia as a benign arbitration matter concerning marriage, divorce and family disputes, a culturally relative cousin to Rabbinic and Canon law; it is not. Both Jews and Christians are free to consider religious advice as a compliment to freedom, Muslims do not enjoy nor want the same condition.

    Sharia is Islamic law, the divine law of Allah brought to mankind by Islam’s prophet Muhammed. It encompasses and directs every aspect of life from spirituality, religion, sex, charity, politics, gender interaction, nature, finance, marriage, divorce, inheritance, education, children, and race relations. It holds contempt for and is in direct conflict with any system that is not Islamic and bound by sharia. Laws that are man-made, the western ideology of the separation of church and state, and any societal value which gives and guarantees every person autonomy and the freedom over his/her own destiny are all considered abominations of Islam and it’s law, sharia.

    Most of it is practiced underground. Young girls are hauled out of school at holiday time and brought ‘home’ for a visit with the relatives–they either return betrothed to a man 3 times their age or are left behind, married. Families force their daughters to live by Islamic rule and threaten them with abuse when they attempt to assimilate. Fathers, mothers, brothers, male cousins, uncles and brothers-in-law keep a tight grip on the young girls and women in their families while many Muslim leaders protect a ‘tight’, faith-based community. When sharia comes to light, they often react with standard issued criticism leveled at the media and the larger community for ‘presenting Islam in a bad light’ for reporting the facts. Deny,criticize, deflect, protect.

    Female genital mutilation happens in homes every day in Canada. Demands that Muslim women be treated by women doctors in hospitals and clinics is common. Some Muslim cab drivers reject passengers with dogs and alcohol. Clerks in grocery stores refuse to handle pork products. Women vote with their faces covered. Swimming pools make way for gender segregated swim times. The burqa and niqab are forced upon many women and Imams perform multiple marriages knowing full well they are illegal in Canada. Islamic groups issue manuals instructing the press and the police on ‘Islamic sensitivity’ and what words are acceptable when journalists describe Muslims and Islam in news reports. The media is monitored and rated by Islamist groups. Some mosques preach against the evils of democracy and voting and hold that elections are un-Islamic. Others instruct the ummah to reject western values altogether, others take it up a notch and preach violent jihad against the west and still others hold conferences hosting radical speakers to throngs eager to hear their message. All of this is done in the name of sharia, it’s advancement and protection.

    Sharia is part of our mosaic and has been present for many years without interference from any government, social service or police administration. Wherever Islam is there will be sharia, despite the warnings against it from some Muslims themselves who acknowledge it’s barbarism and oppressive state. For the most part, these same Muslims who speak out against it are considered apostates and are threatened and vilified. There is no need to entertain the thought of implementing sharia; it’s here.

  3. “Wherever there are Muslims, there is an Islamic community. Wherever there is an Islamic community, there is the sharia, and wherever there is sharia there is the islamification of the area and eventually the nation”

    Sam Solomon, Ottawa, June 7th 2010

  4. Thank you for your comments and I agree with all that you said, Grace(and Eeyore).
    I do not want you to think that I am niave regarding this issue. My main reason for making the last statement was the hope that Canada would not officially recognize it.
    I know that we are already sleeping with the enemy, but they are a small minority (1.9% of the Canadian population was the last stat I heard). I’m hoping that the more we talk about this, the more will be done to help young women escape its clutches.
    SIOA has started ad campaigns in the U.S. to help people who feel threatened by their families and communities by providing contacts for help. Do you know of anything in Canada?

  5. Christine,
    It’s evident from your comments that you are not naive about this issue; I wish more people had the understanding you have and the will to openly talk about it. I too hope that Canada never officially recognizes sharia, but that depends upon the public’s understanding of it and it’s will to insist that policy and law makers do not fall into the well crafted Islamist traps.

    I will do some research to see if Canada has any similar campaigns to those of the SIOA and if and when I find something, I will post it. Thanks for the tip. Cheers, Grace.

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