2014/04/17 1 Comment
Sheema Khan’s reasonable approach on how best, and how not to, address gender issues, including “honour-based” violence.
Barbara Kay (Suffering caused by honour tell tales that smite the heart) and Margaret Wente (Don’t ignore women’s struggles in the Muslim world) would do well to reflect further on Sheema’s points, as well as those of Amy Awad (Don’t Separate ‘Honour Crimes’ From Other Violence Against Women).
While much of Sheema’s piece is largely on the motives of Clarion Project (the organization behind Honor Diaries, Iranium, Obsession, and The Third Jihad), it is more her positive formulation on how best to counter “honour-based” violence that is of interest:
For those who want to help eliminate “honour”-based violence (HBV), a good place to start is through in-depth research about the issue. Next is consultation with those who have first-hand expertise in the field and credibility with affected communities. Aruna Papp, a South Asian Christian, has survived the trauma of “shame”, and is one of this country’s leading experts. In London, Ont., the Muslim Resource Centre for Social Support and Integration recently launched the “Reclaim Honour Project” that “works to promote honour and prevent violence against girls and women through the support of the community.” In March, the Ottawa Police Service held a collaborative session with local communities to address HBV, with expert Rana Husseini. Ms. Husseini, a Jordanian-based journalist, has over twenty years’ experience in the field. She advised: “never denigrate a people’s faith or culture,” but rather, protect at-risk women, create safe spaces to raise the issue, and work patiently to change laws and attitudes. The absence of Ms. Husseini’s approach in Honour Diaries speaks volumes.
We can look to the recent successes against female genital mutilation in sub-Saharan Africa as an example of how to approach centuries-rooted traditions. The key drivers include community dialogue and education, health-based initiatives, alternative income for cutters, legislative reform, and the involvement of religious clergy whose moral authority has undercut cultural legitimacy of genital mutilation.
Religion is an ally against “honour” killings. Islamic scholars (both Sunni and Shia) have condemned this practice. Their voices need to be amplified, in order to remove any doubts about the immoral nature of this crime. They carry far more legitimacy than anti-Muslim propagandists. But then again, eradicating honour killings was never the goal of Honor Diaries.