Thursday, July 15, 2010

No Honour in Misogyny

Rona Ambrose, the Minister responsible for the Status of Women, spoke on Monday about wanting to include 'honour killings' in the Criminal Code.

Me, and lots of other peeps, are opposed to this.

First and foremost, it's not necessary, from a logistical point of view.

"Three law professors said the first-degree murder provisions of the Criminal Code already contain all the tools needed to prosecute and punish those who commit "honour killings" and they knew of no Canadian judge or jury who treated cultural family "honour" as a mitigating factor in sentencing." (National Post)

So it's clear from the outset that this is ideological and in no way a real "Crime and Punishment" agenda. It wouldn't be necessary to get a conviction and it wouldn't change sentencing.

Before I move on though, none of this should matter. When discussing issues around a specific group (and let's be honest, this is targeting a specific group of people), how about discussing that issue with them?

In this case, it would be the Canadian Council on Muslim Women. And they don't agree with adding it to the Criminal Code for reasons that I 100% support.

"We as an organization don't want the term honour killing used in Canada because it's making it exotic, something alien, and foreign, and people are using that as a rationale to understand the murders. Let's not go that route. A murder is a murder. Let's not separate us as new immigrants or ethnic groups from the rest of Canadian women. It doesn't matter which culture, which religion or which ethnic origin we come from, the same laws should apply to us." (National Post)

The Conservative Government wants to appear as though they are tough on crime (which they are) but also that they do care about the lady folk. Everyone (except the Cons) knows that the party has been horrid to womyn in Canada and so they've turned the gaze 'elsewhere' and made it about 'saving the womyn of the world'. And in this case, womyn of the world who come to Canada.

It's total bullshit.

As a Canadian-born feminist, I must also say that it offends me to no end that people are up in arms about 'honour killings' but sensationalize or worse yet, barely discuss the murders of womyn as a whole.

In Canada, we have over 520 missing and murdered aboriginal womyn. Just today we heard about a 61 year old womyn who was sexually assaulted and almost died while visiting a friend's grave. (I would link to the story but it's really awful, so feel free to Google it yourself if you're wanting some salacious details). Eight womyn are sexually assaulted a day in Canada's capital city.

Womyn across the country are assaulted, kidnapped and murdered on a daily basis often because they have 'wronged' a partner, taken children away from abusers, or done something in some way that resists (or attempts to resist) someone's power. More often than not, womyn are murdered because they are womyn. And quite frankly, just existing for many womyn is an assault on some people's honour. But we don't call those honour killings. Hell, we don't even call them hate crimes. It's just - one more murder, kidnapping, aggravated assault, battery, etc.

The root of 'honour killings' and the vast majority of violence against womyn is misogyny. Unless they're going to include that in the Criminal Code and start targeting the real roots of misogyny, which include an emphasis on 'crime and punishment' rather than social services, then the label of 'honour killings' does nothing but perpetuate racism and isolation of immigrant communities.

Rona and her pack of Conservative thugs should focus instead of attacking all roots of violence and using existing mechanisms rather than making stuff up that may sound fancy but doesn't mean shit.

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