November 30, 2010
So-called ‘honour-based crimes’ should not be viewed as distinct from mainstream violence against women and the Criminal Code should not be amended to include a separate ‘honour killings’ charge, a panel agreed at what was believed to be the first-ever symposium on the subject in York Region in Ontario, Canada. The panel — which featured self-proclaimed Muslim feminist, social worker, and beauty queen Tahmena Bokhari, and which also included Det. Christina Baker of York Regional Police, lawyer and activist Zarah Danani, and Anita Khanna, of the Council of Agencies Serving South Asians — agreed that the term ‘honour killing’ wrongfully suggests so-called honour crimes are somehow different from the crimes of yore.
The symposium — entitled Honour Based Violence and the Canadian Context and hosted by the Sandgate Women’s Shelter of York Region — drew 50 or so mostly female community members, activists, and social workers to Richmond Hill, Ontario’s Elgin West Community Centre.
In July, Rona Ambrose, Canadian Minister for the Status of Women, told a news conference in Mississauga that the government was “looking at” adding a separate charge. Yet, later the same day her statement was hastily rejected by the Justice Department.