Quebec’s Status of Women Committee has released a 167-page report that primarily addresses the disturbing phenomenon of honour killings of girls and women, 17 of which have been officially designated as such in Canada since 1991. The report also considers strategies to combat non-lethal honour-motivated abuses, including genital mutilations, virginity testing, forced marriage and “excessive control.” [...]Are they implying Christians actually commit honor murders too? What a disgrace; that goes entirely against what Christians stand for. But their point that ideology and savage beliefs are the main culprit in honor murders by Islamofascists is a good one, and without confronting it, there's no chance of ever eliminating the crisis.
The report has its conception in the revulsion experienced by all Canadians at the brutal 2009 murders of three Quebec sisters (Zainab, Sahar and Geeti) and their stepmother, Rona Amir, at the hands of their Afghan-born parents (Mohammad Shafia and Tooba Mohammad Yahya) and brother Hamed. The document is welcome: Honour-motivated crimes are a reality (albeit a rare one) in this country. But the immediate response from the Quebec government, exploiting it as a prop for its controversial Charter of Values — which would ban “conspicuous” religious accessories such as the hijab and yarmulke from public life — is unwelcome.
“I wouldn’t make a direct link between the two,” said Bernard Drainville, the Parti Québécois minister overseeing the marketing of the proposed law, “but the symbolism of the charter may help us prevent these kinds of crimes. The Charter sends a very strong signal that equality between women and men is an important value, a non-negotiable value in Quebec society.”
Mr. Drainville is off base in his assessment. In newspaper photos of the Shafia women, one sees modest attire, but no special religious garb at all, neither hijabs or niqabs. No mention was made of regular mosque attendance. No appeal was made to shariah law by the defendants at trial. The parents’ attachment to a draconian sense of family honour sprang from a cultural obsession common to great swaths of populations in South Asia and the Middle East, where honour crimes may be disproportionately found amongst Muslims, but which are regularly committed among Sikhs, Hindus and even Christians — many of them religiously observant, but others less so or even disengaged from religion altogether.
As Liberal MNA and women’s issues critic Maryse Gaudreault riposted in denunciation of Drainville’s opportunistic linkage, the real threats to girls and women is not what they wear (which isn’t to say that honour crimes don’t happen to women wearing hijabs and niqabs, too), but rather “fundamentalism and extremism.” One can be fundamentalist and extreme about one’s ancestral cultural values even if one dresses in an outwardly Western way.
That said, it's still a good idea to ban hijabs and niqabs, because they can be used as a form of control, something no woman needs to suffer from.