When the Picklers met last month for the first time, in the ensuing discussion we generally agreed on one point at least: we need to challenge the dominant patriarchal nature of Asian families.
It is my belief this needs a lot of debate and direct action. It is also a fight 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. This is not how we work.
The sentencing following Samaira Nazir’s sickening murder has brought this most important of issues to the surface: “honour killings”.
So, what avenues are open to us to challenge this?
1) Government action
Some sort of government legislation is needed to make this a social stigma. Legislation alone won’t stop honour killings, but it will send out a strong message that it will not be tolerated by the law under any cicumstances.
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.
2) Direct action
Our aims, in putting forward a case for direct action when feasible, should be two-fold: Spur the government into action; make this a social stigma that is not tolerated by our generation. Towards the second goal I have a few suggestions:
a) Let’s say someone from an area is caught in an honour killing. We get together a team of people, head down there, and overnight flood the place with leaflets and posters condemning the act and the murder. It would require a very hard-hitting leaflet that would also state that the younger generation needs to stand up against these honour killings.
Take this as another example:
The word example reminded me of another “honour” killing, that of Amandeep Atwal. She was 17 when her father stabbed her after she told her family she was moving in with her white boyfriend.
When it happened, I got into a very heated argument with my grandmother. She had been talking about it with her sister in Toronto and when she got off the phone, I decided to ask her how a person can call themselves a Sikh and do what Amandeep’s father did or support his actions. She told me that the father was “setting an example,” making sure that no other Sikh girl would try what Amandeep did.
We need to challenge the fallacy that killing the child will set an example. What kind of a stupid parent maintains control over their children through the threat of death?
b) Set up an informal network to help girls who are in trouble. Need some more ideas on this.
c) Do publicity stunts along the lines of Fathers4Justice to raise awareness and push the government. Though, given we are largely brown, this is a risky course of action because the police would shoot first and ask questions later.
As always, thoughts are welcome. I am serious about direct action as that’s the kind of person I am. We decide what is a good idea and what works and we make it happen. I don’t want to just keep talking about this.
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Filed in: Culture,Sex equality