Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Requiem for a Muslim girl

There are quite a few Muslim women who work where I do. Some wear the hijab, others don't. None who do or who not question the morals or motivation of the "others." And as a Christian, I don't care what any one wears to work as long as it's business appropriate and they do their jobs.

News that a Muslim teenager who paid the supreme price after she decided to dress as most of her classmates did and not in traditional dress and listen to contemporary music is, therefore, disheartening and downright outrageous. She was the victim of repeated attacks from her fellow family members. Now, she's dead; and it looks like her father will be charged with murder.

I refuse to contemplate the possibility that this was a merely frustrated parent we're talking about. This has all the classic makings of an honour killing and if that's the case it may be one of the first, if not the first, in Canadian history. And it's the old double standard again that applies to any religion -- men in a family can do whatever they want, are expected to do whatever they can with a woman; but women can't, even with fellow women. Men can adapt to civil society, but women can't. Men may dress as they want, listen to the music they want; but not women.

Human Rights Watch stipulates that even in those circumstances, the term honour killing is appropriate. So I choose to characterize it as such also.

Let the trial process sort this one out. Suffice it to say that there is a major gap in our criminal law in Canada. A judge can impose a harsher sentence if the victim was attacked because of colour, ethnic origin, religion, disability, or sexual orientation. But not their sex. Because of that, the father only faces 25 years in jail, not 50.

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Jacques Beau Vert said...

My routine condemnations of and scorn for Islam is almost always mistaken for condemnations of Muslims, while in fact I believe they're victims of Islam. Perhaps it's more accurate to say Islam itself is the victim of a bunch of fanatics with power in the religious system, but to me it's just academic.

I routinely criticize the Catholic Church and am agreed with - the same should hold true for Islam.

In my view, Islam is not kind to its followers, and doesn't deserve respect or deference.

Jacques Beau Vert said...

PS I'm fairly sure this is not Canada's first honour killing, but am too busy to research right now.

PPS Your last paragraph takes me aback, I had no idea.

Ellen said...

Aqsa's death has all the classic hallmarks of an "honor" killing. There is little question, even if some people are loathe to label it one.

Actually, Jason, "honor" killings are believed to have their origins in misinterpretations of pre-Islamic Arab tribal codes. They pre-date Islam by centuries and, in fact, are un-Islamic.

Ellen R. Sheeley, Author
"Reclaiming Honor in Jordan"

Karen Tintori said...

If we in North America are afraid to call an "honor" killing an "honor" killling, what hope do we have of saving other women's lives?

There is no honor in copping out under the veil of political correctness, moral or cultural relativism. There is never honor in murdering women, anywhere.

Karen Tintori, author
Unto the Daughters: The Legacy of an Honor Killing in a Sicilian-American Family

BlastFurnace said...

Jason: I did a bit of searching after my initial post and yes, there have been honour killings in Canada before. All are founded on the killer's evil spirit, but I have never heard of an honour killing as spiteful and heartless as this one in this country.

Ellen and Karen: Amen, sisters. I'll openly admit to a streak of male chauvanism, but I also stand for the law. Canada's constitution explicitly states that women and men are equal in every respect. That's something I believe in firmly, and we all have an uphill struggle to make that equality a reality but it must be accomplished once and for all.

But outrages like this will continue so long as both men and women who know what's going on do nothing to stop it. This and other abuses against females was rightly called "The War Against Women" nearly two decades ago and it is by no means finished.

Jim said...

"Suffice it to say that there is a major gap in our criminal law in Canada. A judge can impose a harsher sentence if the victim was attacked because of colour, ethnic origin, religion, disability, or sexual orientation. But not their sex."

Well, like jason bo green, I thought this seemed a little odd, so I looked it up. The 1995 amendment to the criminal code included the following:

718.2 A court that imposes a sentence shall also take into consideration the following principles:

(a) a sentence should be increased or reduced to account for any relevant aggravating or mitigating circumstances relating to the offence or the offender, and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing,

(i) evidence that the offence was motivated by bias, prejudice or hate based on race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation or any other similar factor,

(ii) evidence that the offender, in committing the offence, abused the offender's spouse or child, or

(iii) evidence that the offender, in committing the offence, abused a position of trust or authority in relation to the victim

shall be deemed to be aggravating circumstances;

It would appear that all three clauses apply to the alleged facts fo this case. That is, if you consider that the father's alleged actions were motivated by "bias, prejudice or hate based on . . . sex". The phrase "or any other similar factor" is clearly meant to paper over any cracks that were left by the specific categories listed.

The father was certainly abusing a family member and was in a position of trust or authority.

As to whether it was an honour killing, well, I'm not so sure of that. An honour killing typically (although not always) involves some effort to hunt down the victim and a subsequent bragging episode to demonstrate that the family's honour[sic] has been restored. This may have been an honour killing, or it may have been a "spur of the moment" attack in a fit of rage. That's nearly as bad, I think, but it's not an honour killing.