Friday, July 24, 2009

'Honour killing is patriarchy, not religion'

Rise in Canadian 'honour killings' should not be ignored
National Post: As many as 5,000 women and girls lose their lives -- mostly at the hands of their family members -- in 'honour killings' around the world each year, according to the United Nations.

Up to a dozen have died for the same reason in Canada in the last decade, and it's happening more often, says Amin Muhammad, a psychiatrist who studies honour killings at Memorial University in Newfoundland...

Honor killings can be sparked by a woman talking to a man, having a boyfriend, wearing makeup or revealing clothing, or even seeking a divorce, says Diana Nammi, founder of the London-based International Campaign Against Honour Killings. Ms. Nammi, originally from Iran, says children of immigrants who grow up in western nations take those freedoms for granted, which can throw them into conflict with their parents' rigid standards.

'When people are moving to another country, they leave everything they have, all their possessions, behind. But what they can bring with them is what they believe, their culture, their traditions, their religion... Unfortunately, they are choosing to show the worst part of that, and the worst and criminal part of that is controlling women.'

Honour killing is most prevalent in nations with large Muslim populations, but Aysan Ms. Sev'er, a professor of sociology at the University of Toronto Scarborough and author of an upcoming book on the subject, says there's nothing in Islam that sanctions the practice. Some perpetrators use religion as a 'cloak,' she says, but honour killing is about patriarchy, not religion.

'A few women are really sacrificed to terrorize all women, to push them into submission.'
Image: Aqsa Parvez, left, Shemina Hirji, top right, and Amina Yaser Said and Sarah Yaser Said, bottom right, were all killed by men in their lives in crimes described as 'honour killings'; source here.