November 13, 2008
The murder of Aqsa Parvez last year and the ensuing article in this month’s Toronto Life: Girl, Interrupted has caused a lot of debate about honour killings. I think most people agree that honour killings and honour violence are wrong. What’s being debated is the narrow definition that focuses on religion and tends to marginalize people based on culture.
I heard a comment on CBC radio yesterday morning that broadened the definition of honour killings to include deaths from intimate partner abuse – an occurrence that happens too often right here in Canada. The speaker was questioning the label “Toronto’s First Honour Killing” – one of the headlines used about the Parvez article.
When considering honour killings, most people conjure up images of far-away religions and cultures but ignore the problems under their own noses. I deplore the use of honour killings and honour violence in “far-away” places to control women’s actions and aspirations. But, I will not be lulled into pretending that similar acts don’t happen right here under the guise of domestic violence or sexual assault. While I think that it is appropriate to comment about the treatment of women and girls around the world, let’s do it with a measured approach that shies from generalizations and embraces self-inspection.