• Welcome to all New Sikh Philosophy Network Forums!
    Explore Sikh Sikhi Sikhism...
    Sign up Log in

Ottawa May Add 'honour Killing' To Criminal Code

Jan 6, 2005
Metro-Vancouver, B.C., Canada

Ottawa may add 'honour killing'
to Criminal Code:Rona Ambrose

By Kathryn Blaze Carlson, National Post July 12, 2010 2:45 PM

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — The federal government on Monday affirmed its zero-tolerance stance against "honour killing," declaring such "barbaric cultural practices" as "heinous abuses" that have "no place in Canadian society."

At a news conference at the Punjabi Community Health Service centre near Toronto, Rona Ambrose, the minister responsible for the status of women, said the government is taking gender-based violence "very seriously" and called on women's groups and members of the immigrant community to do their part in tackling these "heinous abuses."

The minister's announcement was apparently prompted by this weekend's release of a high-profile report focusing on the growing problem of the abuse of girls and women in Canada's immigrant communities.

The report, released by the Frontier Centre for Public Policy, outlines 14 recommendations for Ottawa — including mandatory orientation sessions for male sponsors and sponsored women regarding gender-equality in this country.

Ambrose said the government is already working on some of the recommendations and is "looking at" others, including the launch of government-funded programs on local and national television that could be used to reiterate the consequences of abuse.

She also said the government is "looking at" adding 'honour killing' as a separate charge to the Criminal Code.

"If we have a different family dynamic at play, then we have to address that family dynamic," Ambrose said.

The notion of honour killings — which are carried out in order to 'cleanse' the family name and to restore the family honour, and are most likely to take place among the South Asian community — have recently made headlines in Canada, with a number of high-profile cases catapulting the issue into the spotlight.

In her report entitled Culturally-Driven Violence Against Women: A Growing Problem in Canada's Immigrant Communities, Aruna Papp, a Toronto-based social worker who deals with domestic violence, argues that honour killings represent a new type violence against women in Canada. She said it is a phenomenon that demands the attention of researchers, community leaders, and politicians.

"Most advocates and activists for female victims of abuse shy away from challenging the immigrant communities to examine their own traditions and cultural values in explaining the violence in their homes," she wrote. "Even the most well-meaning advocates for female equality tends to avoid any discussion of cultural values and traditions."

Papp, who attended the news conference and said Ottawa's latest announcement on the issue is a "good start," said it is up to all Canadians to bring to the fore an otherwise taboo subject.

Baldev Mutta, CEO of the Punjabi Community Health Services centre, said that while it is indeed important for all members of the community to take a stand against honour killings, it is the men who are most conspicuously lacking from the discussion. "There's an absence of men coming out against the killing," Mutta said. "There is an absence of male role models. Men need to be proactive and come out against this."

Papp's report said Canada has seen as many as 15 honour killings in last eight years — killings that she said must be distinguished from incidents of Western domestic violence.

Honour crimes, she explained, are perpetrated by the extended family against girls and women by male relatives, such as fathers, fathers-in-law, brothers, brothers-in-law, husbands, and occasionally sons, and often with the complicity of older females.

Last fall the federal government released a revamped Citizenship Guide for newcomers to Canada which explicitly condemned "barbaric cultural practices" such as honour killings.

On Monday a woman accused of stabbing her 19-year-old daughter multiple times, in what is being investigated as a possible honour crime near Montreal, was found fit to stand trial after undergoing a psychiatric evaluation.

With a file from the Montreal Gazette

© Copyright (c) National Post

source: http://www.{censored}/news/Ottawa+honour+killing+Criminal+Code+Rona+Ambrose/3267446/story.html
Jan 6, 2005
Metro-Vancouver, B.C., Canada
Government’s action on honour killings
a good start, but needs teeth

Tasha Kheiriddin - National Post -July 13, 2010 – 11:50 am

Kudos to the Conservative government, and Minister for the Status of Women Rona Ambrose, for their strong statements yesterday on the issue of honour killings. They come on the heels of a report by the Frontier Centre on Public Policy, which makes a series of recommendations to the federal government on the issue. These include educating new immigrants about Canada’s values and campaigns, to impress upon them that abuse of women will not be tolerated.

However, the government’s position is missing one important set of teeth: criminal deterrence. Indeed, mere hours after Ms. Ambrose said that the government was studying possible amendments to the Criminal Code, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice contradicted her statement.

If the government wants to send a clear signal that honour killings will not be tolerated, they need not create a separate offence. They could simply add honour killings to the list of aggravating factors in sentencing under section 718(2) of the Criminal Code, which currently include hate crimes, domestic violence against a spouse, abuse of a child, abuse of authority, criminal gang activity, and terrorism.

Currently, one could argue that honour killings fall under the rubric of "domestic violence" or "abuse of a child". But the wording of the Code does not catch many of these crimes, such as those committed against young single adult women, or crimes committed by other family members, not just by the victim’s parents. Honour killings relating to forced marriages can affect the former, and many honour killings involve the latter (brothers, uncles and other relatives).

Lumping honour killings into the domestic violence provisions also fails to address another key issue in these crimes – that they are not what western law understands as "domestic", but actually involve the community. Fellow columnist Barbara Kay eloquently sets out these differences in her post yesterday. An excellent article about the subject can also be found here, including a table setting out the distinctions between the two crimes.

A 2008 study in the United Kingdom, where it is estimated one woman is killed every month for "honour", also concluded that the crimes of domestic violence and honour killings are distinct. The community is always involved, sometimes to the degree of sending "circulars" to local households shaming specific women.

<DIR>"These circulars name and shame people that break the honour codes of the community. These circulars are highly damaging to the individuals mentioned in them. The circulars are there to enforce the power and control of the community leaders in an attempt to police their community."

This is what sets honour killings apart from domestic violence as understood in the West. A cultural requirement to murder your daughter because she brings shame on your family extends well beyond the "domestic" sphere. Honour killings are not just about one father thinking that he has to control his daughter. Or one mother who, as in the case of Aqsa Parvez, chillingly blames the victim, admonishing her after her death that

<DIR>"Oh my Aqsa, you should have listened..Everyone tried to make you understand. Everyone begged you, but you did not listen. . .".

While education is important, as are the other recommendations in the Frontier Center report, knowing that a sentence for honour killing would carry a harsher penalty would send a clear message to potential perpetrators that these crimes will not be tolerated – and hopefully deter them from committing these acts. Including honour killings on the list of aggravating factors in sentencing would set a new "community standard" – one which goes beyond the confines of minority culture and religion, to the broader Canadian community at large.

source: http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2010/07/13/tasha-kheiriddin-governments-action-on-honour-killings-a-good-start-but-needs-teeth/