Opposing Debater: How is this a false homogenization? Violence is violence is violence. A shock, once again I do not agree with the National Post
Barbara Kay, “Discover Canada: The rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship” is a watershed moment for the policy of multiculturalism and a banner day for immigrant women
Posted: November 12, 2009, 12:50 PM
I’m sure many Canadians rubbed their eyes in disbelief when they saw the news that Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney had launched a new guide for immigrants wishing to become Canadian citizens, a guide informing new arrivals that “barbaric” cultural practices which physically harm women are not tolerated here. The guidebook, called Discover Canada: The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship, will be required reading for newcomers, and contains a special section on “The Equality of Women and Men” (note the word order). It says: “…Canada’s openness and generosity do not extend to barbaric cultural practices that tolerate spousal abuse, ‘honour killings,’…or other gender-based violence.”
Barbaric? Barbaric? But, but, but that means our government is making, you know, a judgment on the cultural practices of other people, some of them people of colour! I think we have arrived at a watershed moment in the history of multiculturalism. Indeed, this may be the “tear-down-this-wall” moment when open discussion of multiculturalism’s failure as a national policy does not automatically confer the charge of racism.
Good on Jason Kenney for pointing out the particular naked emperor of purposeful blindness to the special injustices many immigrant women continue to suffer, even after two generations of Canadian citizenship, because of cultural “values” that do not diminish with time, and are passed down from one generation to the next. For too long in the West, violence directed against girls and women from honour/shame societies by their male relatives, often with the complicity of their female relatives, has been incorrectly lumped in with all domestic violence. A false homogenization of the two types of crime is championed by gender ideologues who can’t bear the idea that some forms of violence against women are a culturally imposed pathology and not, as they would prefer, a tragic but predictable example of the inherent violence and controlling instincts of all men. One can understand their discomfiture: Honour killings and the general suppression of women in other cultures is actually proof that widespread or approved violence against women is a cultural, not a genetically-based phenomenon.
Ideologues are silently abetted by ethnic associations which at best ignore the abuse and at worst deflect criticism from their cultural traditions by insisting such abuse is normative. When 16-year old Toronto girl Aqsa Parvez was murdered in 2007 by her father for not wearing a hijab, Mohammed Elmasry of the Canadian Islamic Congress brushed it off: “I don’t want the public to think that this is an Islamic issue or an immigrant issue. It is a teenager issue,” a dumbing-down of the horror that quite takes the breath away. But he is right about one thing: Honour killing is largely (about 90%), but not solely, a practice of Muslim societies. Occasional honour killings, and certainly a great deal of abuse is visited on girls and women in Sikh, Hindu and other groups from South Asia and the Middle East.
And while honour killings are a minority of all domestic killings, they must be recognized as sui generis. Lenore Walker, author of The Battered Woman Syndrome, notes the difference between the victim-perpetrator in honour killings and those in western society: “In ordinary domestic violence involving westerners, it is rare for brothers to kill sisters or for male cousins to kill female cousins. And while child abuse occurs in which fathers may kill infants and children, it is very rare for Western fathers to kill teenage daughters.” In the West it is far more typical for fathers who disapprove of their daughters’ lifestyle or behaviour to shun them or disassociate from them.
There are a whole slew of differences besides these between honour killing and normative domestic violence. You can find the subject addressed at length in Womens Studies professor Phyllis Chesler’s in-depth treatment here. Perhaps now that the government has “outed” the problem, we can begin to address it seriously and help the thousands of immigrant women who are kept in ignorance of their rights.
We must do more than educate them. Because even when these brainwashed women become aware they have rights, they are usually too frightened of retribution for their perceived rebelliousness – and justifiably so – to challenge the collective dogmas of their kinship groups. Any attempt toward self-assertion by women from honour/shame cultures arouses the enmity of not only male relatives, but authority figures such as imams and other cultural elites. Defining their rights collectively, not individually, whole communities will stand in solidarity against these individual women’s attempts to break free from them, and punish any indications of a wish for autonomy. Feminists above all should support this courageous initiative by the government. If they don’t, they’re not really feminists at all.
Rudra Sarkar: I disagee with you in the absolute. And agree with her instead. You think honor killing is the same as Crazy men beating their wives and children? Are you in denial of the motives behind culturally-based violence completely? THIS shocks me.
Opposing Debater: Why? Because wife-beating is tolerated here because it has no cultural associations to it? I’m not in denial that there are differences in motives, regardless, its all violence and all of it is wrong.
Rudra Sarkar: IT IS NNOOTT TOLERATED HERE! but it is in many other nations. Why are you denying this, with the assumption that Ms Kay is being bigoted in some way? Did you know there are laws in the books in some Mexican states (where there is a strong Conservative Catholic tradition) where IF a rapist agrees to marry his victim, the rape charges are DROPPED?
The point of the article is exactly the same as you are making in a sense–Violence should be JUST violence, and in Canada we should not pander to the ideal that certain other cultures have valid differences, due to our liberal tradition of ‘multicultural relativism’.
I have never found beating/killing women accepted in this country–perhaps more than 30 years ago, it was moreso–you used to be able to legally rape your wife, –IN CANADA– that is not the case anymore
Accepted violence ALSO has to do with the manner in which such violence is dealt with in the courts. In Nigeria today, a rape victim can be whipped, an adulterer stoned to death. Today. In 2009. This is Nigerian Sharia Law.
In other Islamic nations–Pakistan being one, a rape victim requires THREE witnesses to corroborate her story, while a defendant requires only one, or something strange like that.
Where do rapes occur with 3 non-participatory witnesses just hanging around?
I do not live in oblivion of all these things. Perhaps you do. And that shocks me. It is disingenous to claim woman around the world are equally free–that Canadian woman are as UNEQUAL as so many others throughout other societies around the globe.
I had this same arguement about Aqsa Pervez, but I forgot with whom. Her father wasn’t motivated by some unhinged hatred of women, and some psychological deviance. It was Honor. Those girls and lady found near Kingston in the Rideau Canal in that car? Originally from Afghanistan? They were not the victim of ‘domestic violence’ alone, but a culture that did not allow the daughter to freely date and be themselves.
When the motive is culturally based, we need to address it accordingly. Isn’t THAT what she is saying?
Man I sound like Glenn Beck. How gross.
And you wanna know WHY this matters at all? Why the “false homogenization” must be called out? MOTIVATION. There are different motives between plain old domestic battery and that born of cultural attitudes and traditions of misogny. We care to distinguish here because our criminal justice system needs to understand what is causing such social pathologies.
There is a difference between criminal deviance due to mental illness, social decadence or what have you and cultural norms and values that are being reproduced against the mainstream stances of our society.
If it were, as you say, violence is violence is violence–then there would be no point in having criminal trials and sociological studies into why there is homocide. All homocides would be be put into slot # A. Be they self-defence, pre-meditated, vehicular, suicides, etc etc etc.
But that’s not how our society works, we try to understand CAUSES. In order so that we may augment and improve our society in the future.
I’m disappointed you haven’t replied at all –oh well, i’ll just keep babbling along. Had a thought I wanted to share regarding the “violence is violence” idea and why it is NOT.
Honor Killing can be likened to Terrorism. The cause IS different. And this is important. Certain cultures condone the principles of jihad and martyrdom (no not just Islam but Christianity in history has as well) killings and violence conducted for a ’cause’ is absolutely different from random acts of killing and physical harm. This is due to the fact that a COLLECTIVE, a COMMUNITY, a SOCIETY has indicated the act to be favorable, redeeming or just. Thus the agent responsable for the specific act is not completely and solely the one that can be ‘charged’ under the law.
This nuance needs to be understood and acknowledged.
Your argument, to me, sounded similar to those I have heard regarding the Greyhound Bus beheading dude Vincent Li. People say he should never have been allowed here from China and immigration policy ought to be made more strict, yadda yadda yadda. This guy? He was a Schizoprenic. He was ill. He had no agenda, he had no collective backing his actions and calling them virtuous. Immigration laws have nothing to do with mental illness. He could have been named Joe Blow from the Indian Reservation. He just had to be mentally ill, not “from” anywhere.
Violence is not violence and this is exactly why.
When someone beats their wife, kills their daughter, cuts off the clitoris of their neice—in the name of a COLLECTIVE–it is not the same as if someone with mental problems does the same. Because the compulsion to the violence is different and this must be addressed.