There’s a great post up at Pickled Politics on the catastrophically misnomered topic of “honour killings”, the need to “challenge the dominant patriarchal nature of Asian families”, and how it’s an issue that “the current crop of “community leaders” and race relations expert are afraid to raise because they are bound by the desire not to offend anyone”. Obviously offence is the very, very least that anyone with the slightest sympathy or support for honour killings deserves to receive, but it’s true that that there are cultural, religious, racial etc factors that might affect one’s response to issues like this. I always find it helpful to disregard entirely this kind of extraneous baggage and ask whether it’s right that a man – whatever his race or religion – should stab his daughter or sister to death because he doesn’t like her choice of boyfriend. No, never, is the answer at which I always arrive.
I suspect that most people feel likewise, but still these murders happen. Sunny asks what avenues are open for us to challenge this, and comes up with, among other things, the following:
a) We should still explicitly ban forced marriages. I stand by this because of its symbolism and the potential to more easily convict offending parents.
b) Extending the crime to include other members of family. I believe this should be a key piece of legislation. Two weeks ago Danish courts convicted nine members of family of murder or being accessory to the murder of 19 year old Ghazala Khan.
c) More support and training for social services. Ghazala Khan was repeatedly denied help by the police. We need more support for refuge shelters and more awareness about their existence in this country. Some ideally with support from Asian women to help with individual cases.
I also wonder whether knifing someone to death like this should be considered an aggravated crime. The Samaira Nazir case, where she was “held down as a scarf was tied around her neck and her throat was cut in three places”, while her nieces, aged 2 and 4, were “splattered with blood” as they were forced to watch, was reported in the same issue of the Times that recorded the trial of Jody Dobrowski’s murderers, who were – deservedly – sentenced to 28 years in prison. I defy anyone to explain to my satisfaction precisely why Jody Dobrowski’s killers were more inhuman, sick, disgusting and deserving of greater punishment than Samaira Nazir’s.
Not that it’s a competition, of course. Both murders were repulsive. One, for some reason, gets to be called an “honour” killing. It shouldn’t be. As Sunny says, we need to “make this a social stigma that is not tolerated by our generation”.