I heard the story of Banaz Mahmod, a 20-year-old woman in London, gang-raped, garrotted, stuffed into a suitcase and buried in waste ground, for the crime of a kiss in a train station. Her murder was carried out under the orders of her own father and her uncle. Banaz was married off to a man she had barely met at the age of 17, who subjected her to extraordinary abuses. We need authorities, decision makers and politicians to provide the same protection and preventative action for women of ethnic minority communities affected by "honour"-based violence and oppression as they would for any other crime in any other part of society.
On the morning of June 30, 2009, police in a small eastern Ontario city made a ghastly discovery: four females dead in a car submerged in a shallow canal -- Canada's first mass honour killing. In Without Honour, award-winning journalist Rob Tripp draws on three years of exhaustive research and exclusive interviews to make sense of a senseless crime in a way no other writer could. "The feeling had gnawed at Jake since the catastrophic outcome of his peck on Sahar's cheek in the corridor of St-Ex in the fall of 2007. He had not forgotten the sight of the sad girl standing in the hall, tears trickling down her cheeks, as she explained that her dad got really mad and slapped her."
Muslims for Progressive Values have just published a new book tackling all the factors such as interfaith marriage and hijabs that seem to set Muslims apart from the rest of humanity, and cause 55 per cent of Canadians to claim that Muslims do not share their values. Reading it would be a step in the right direction.
The verdict in the Shafia case exemplifies the ability of Western legal systems to provide justice to victims of honour killings. If anything positive can come from the Shafia verdict, let it be that law enforcement throughout North America takes the time to educate themselves about honour violence.
Canadians are often uncomfortable labeling premeditated murders "honour killings" under the guise of political correctness. Let us take off our multicultural goggles and see honour killings for what they are: culturally motivated, violent crimes committed against women that have no place in a civilized society.
What must we do -- we Muslims -- to ensure none of our daughters and sisters are murdered by their fathers, husbands, and brothers? Among many things we must embrace foremost the 1400-year-old Islamic tradition that emphasizes not the responsibility to guard our modesty, but the duty to show compassion.