Aisha Gill tries desperately to wriggle out of the (totally unexpected) conclusions from the Shafia murder case:
On Sunday a Canadian court found three members of an Afghan family, the father, mother and son, guilty of killing three teenage sisters and another woman. The judge described the crimes as “cold-blooded, shameful murders” resulting from a “twisted concept of honour”. The prosecution argued that for father Mohammad Shafia, honour was everything – quoting him as saying “even if they hoist me up on to the gallows … nothing is more dear to me than my honour”.This was undoubtedly a brutal and heinous crime. Yet is there a danger in simply condemning it as an “honour killing”, as so many in the mainstream media and government have?
I’m going to assume, Aisha, that the answer’s ‘Yes’?
… by focusing on the subject of honour, such violence is too often explained away by cultural stereotypes – allowing society to dismiss these cases as something that only happens in minority communities with their “outdated” notions of justice.
But…it is. You can’t buck the facts, surely?
Oh. I see you’re going to have a damned good try.
This allows us to completely overlook that, first and foremost, these cases are of violence against women, and the concept of honour is being used to legitimate the continued oppression of women.
Yes. Amongst mainly minority communities. After all, I’m not feeling particularly oppressed today, am I? Despite the insane witterings of the cretinous women we seem to be electing to Parliament these days, those of us on the distaff side really have never had it so good, have we?
There is a tendency in the west to see so-called honour killings as exclusively related to specific cultural traditions. They are often depicted as culturally specific to Muslim communities although they are not, in fact, restricted to any particular religion, culture, type of society or social stratum.
Really? I think you’d be hard pushed to find one that wasn’t. Do you have a…
Oh. Of course you do:
In its report on harmful practices, for instance, the charity Imkaan reported a case of a Traveller woman forced to leave her community due to “honour-based violence”.
And pray tell me, Aisha, in what way is that not a ‘minority community with an “outdated” notion of justice’..? It;s hardly mainstream, now is it?
Yet there is a widespread belief that honour is no longer as important in western societies, what with their emphasis on individual rights and legality. However, the modern-day importance of “honour” should not be so quickly cast aside. In the UK data from the British Crime Survey 2009/2010 suggests that nearly a million women experience at least one incident of domestic abuse each year, while close to 10,000 women are sexually assaulted every week – how many of these cases relate to the “honour” of the perpetrators being allegedly besmirched by victims and survivors?
I dunno, Aisha. .5%? .10%? .15%?
No higher, unless you’re going to twist the concept of ‘honour’ out of all meaning.
Tackling “honour” killings requires a shift in political thinking. Instead of regarding them as a cultural tradition common to a range of “backward” societies, the issue needs to be seen in the context of violence against women and the inequality found throughout society.
We need to bring robust strategies to tackle “honour”-based violence into all the services which address violence against women in Britain. Police, the courts, the health service and schools all need to put protection of women and girls at the top of their agenda.
Wouldn’t that be reducing our society and police to, well, the equivalent of those in the backwards countries that we are trying to civilise? Obsessed with women’s safety to a ridiculous level?
Was this what some bird threw herself under the King’s horse for?
There is a need for better working relationships between the police and specialist “violence against women” organisations in all communities.
What sort of ‘specialist violence against women organisations’, Aisha? The ones that you sit on perhaps as ‘a board member of the End Violence Against Women Coalition’..?
What you really want, Aisha, is ‘jobs for the girls’, eh?
Women are particularly vulnerable to abuse and victimisation in harsh economic times; their safety must not be compromised by austerity measures.
Why not? Where’s the equality in that?
If we truly want to protect the honour of women we must ensure their rights and safety at all times, and in all places.
You mean…like Saudi Arabia does?
No thanks. But if that’s your idea of a perfect society, feel free to take the next plane out.