Honour Killings Possible Solutions

The CBC documentary “House of Shafia.”

In the memory of: Shafia sisters Zainab, 19, Sahar, 17, and Geeti, 13, along with Rona Amir Mohammed, 50

In the memory of: Aqsa Parvez

Honour Killings – Possible Solutions

Honour Killings on the Rise. In Canada, there have been 13  cases of honour killings since 2002. “According to the United Nations Population Fund, an estimated 5,000 women and girls are murdered every year in so-called honour killings around the world.”

This article is a “personal response” to the growing concern about the issue of honour killings in Canada and in developed countries.

Honour Killings – Proposed Solutions blog is an attempt at starting a dialogue and implementing those possible solutions.

Possible solutions:

  1. United States, Canada, Europe and other developed countries may wish to come up with confidential and anonymous crisis lines for these women to be able to call and get advice. Women could call and discuss issues such as honour killings, forced arranged marriages, domestic abuse and more.
  2. Calling 911 is not always the best option for these women because with police involvement the matter can really get out of hand for those women who do not wish to leave their families. Information regarding these issues must be circulated by mosques, mundirs, gurdwaras and actual community gathering locations including in the media.
  3. School boards and teachers need to be trained and on the lookout for possible students living in fear including the issue of clothing discrepancies. Sometimes girls hide a change of clothes at school and fear being discovered. Although it is sometimes a shock to immigrants to find out about such openness concerning nudity, sex and candidness in the media, parents have the right to guide their children and preserve their culture, but at what cost? They themselves came to these countries to be treated better and to live a safer life and to allow their children to create a safe place to live at home and outside.
  4. It should be made clear that even though one wants to be politically correct and not discriminate against anyone’s culture, religion or traditions, a threat to a person’s life should be taken very seriously and is illegal. If by committing an honour killing an example is being set, we need to set a stronger example by sending the message that it is immoral and inhumane to treat women in such a manner and there are consequences in this country.
  5. Women’s movements must step forward and actively get involved in helping out with South Asian women’s struggles for equality and justice in the same manner as they would do for their own cultures. In Canada, these movements have been silent on this matter.
  6. School boards must ensure that their teachers are especially trained to be on the lookout for possible students living in fear. Some girls hide a change of clothes at school and live in constant fear of being discovered by their parents. Although it can be a cultural shock for immigrants to discover the overt openness in their new country concerning nudity, sex, and the candidness of the media, parents have the right and responsibility to guide their children and preserve their culture but, in some cases, we must ask at what cost? These immigrant parents, who came to these countries to ensure a better and safer life for the family, must make some adjustments to embrace the safety and freedoms of the new country yet still ensure their families’ rights to preserve and enjoy their cultures.

Honour killings have become an issue because they have been happening in our own backyard. For the developed world, it may be a foreign concept, but it is a reality that many women deal with on an ongoing basis. In North America, many South Asian women, especially Muslim women, live in constant fear of the disapproval of their families, communities and religious organizations. Women who are in abusive situations generally have two options: Run away from home or put up with the situation as best they can. The consequences of running away results in no contact whatsoever with the family, as well as possibly hiding and waking up with nightmares about someone coming after you to kill you. From questions such as, “Why is a strand of your hair showing out of your hijab?” to “Why do you want to date?”, the issue ranges in its seriousness and its possible consequences.

 In a time where North Americans are considering giving dolphins and whales human rights due to their intelligence, it is only critical to help liberate these women and eliminate the constant fear  they live in.

All of us are entitled to live freely and in safety. If our homes are not safe places to live where will we go?

-The writer of this article is a South Asian woman who has personally lived through such experiences, if you would like her help please e-mail us at info@sawntv.com.

Other Suggested Programs: Exploring Creating Healthy Boundaries ProgramAgents Of Change Program that includes Cultural Sensitivity Program

Basic response guide

Culturally Driven Violence Against Women

Honour Killings Possible Solutions

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