Speech of Homa Arjomand on International Women’s Day

“Never Forget Hatun! Campaign against Honour Kinning” March 8th 2006

 

A political campaign is needed to end honor killing

 

Happy International Women’s Day, The International Campaign against Sharia Court in Canada in conjunction with the Committee against Stoning and Women’s Liberation are hosting this conference in order to announce a political campaign entitled “Never Forget Hatun!” .

No doubt all of you are aware of crimes that occur under the name of Honor Killing in Europe and North America and I am sure you are all aware of its daily expansion in the West.  

 

In today’s speech I would like to talk about the importance of having a political campaign that promotes a political solution and motivates all social activists and concerned global citizens to join forces to end these medieval crimes.

 

I have no doubt that Honor killing has been analyzed from various angles and the route of this cruel act has become the subject of various conferences, forums and, panel discussions. We are all aware of resolutions and possible solutions that have been put forward by all. No one denies the serious measures which have been adopted in some countries in order to save the possible victims of honor killing. We are all aware that governmental and NGO’s have put forth an effort to build shelters, outreach programs and even hot lines. We also know that a tougher criminal code has been added to the code of criminal act in some countries for the accusers, but the reality proves that all these precautions are not enough.  This conference with its remarkable attendance such as you proves that we need to do more serious actions to end honor killing.

 

In here I am not talking about the Islamic states or countries where backward culture and tradition has been promoted and guarded by religious movements. In these countries the cruel punishment for women for not being obedient, have a prolonged history and have in fact become part of legislation. I am talking about Europe, North America and Scandinavia where honor killing has been escalated and it is indeed a new phenomenon not older than two decades.   Its birth came about from the time religious groups, in particular political Islam, were given rooms to raise heads.  It was only then that Heshu in England at the age of 16, Fadima in Sweden and Hautoon in Germany with many more women and young girls were all murdered for not honoring the inhuman tradition.

 

In Canada we are not witnessing honor killing much, simply because in Canada women and young girls who are not submissive are taken to their home countries such as India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria and there they are being murdered by the male member of the family or a hit man. And the state is not obligated to protect the individual citizens who were forced to leave Canada by the head of family; be it by the father or other male member of the family. There have been several reports in this regard and documentary films.

 

In here I am not going to put stress on the tie that honor killing has, with growth of anti-women culture and religious movement, in particular Islamic movements as other speakers have already touched base on or will do so. Needless to say the more we give in for the backward culture and tradition, the more women will be subjected to violence and brutal slaughter for refusing to obey the traditions of their culture.

 

I only want to emphasize on one point and that is to say, honor killing is a punishment for the women who act not according to the religion, tradition and culture imposed on them. To be more precise it is a punishment for the ones who desire to run their own lifestyle and choose their own partner. The victims are women and young girls who have thirst to be free and they are not willing to compromise for less than modern and humane life style. Honor killing can only be compared with the witch burning that took place during the European Medieval period and it should be seen as comparably disgraceful. Keep in mind that the victims of honor killing were at the forefront of the struggle for a well deserved human life. We should not allow these symbols of resistance to vanish before our eyes.

 

What can we do in order to end honor killing?

Among many implications one can highlight a sever punishment for the ones who are involved in this cruel and inhumane crime.  And we should indeed do so. We can and we should emphasize on integration and the concept of the equal and universal rights of all citizens. This would prevent violence against women and children in ghettos run by restrictive and backward cultural and customs. We can and we should also make sure that religion stays out of state and education systems or put bans on religious symbols in schools and workplaces in order to prevent religion influence on the children.  We should indeed implement harsh punishments for the ones who violate children’s rights from enjoying their civil and social rights.  We can and we should spend millions of dollars on public education in regard to honor killing. We can and we should open shelters with expert social workers and 24 hour hot lines in order to help and protect the potential victims. We could even issue the possible victims new different birth certificates and identifications as well as relocating them to safer areas. But without a political campaign this medieval crime will reproduce itself and will hunt 1000’s more.  To prove my point I need to expand on a few facts.  The Western states can not put into place harsh punishments for the accused of Honor killing while financing religious activities, institutions and provide them with material and moral support. This is happening on regular bases.

As one can see from reading a recent press news published in Canada the,

Government of Canada gives $30 million to His Highness the Aga Khan to promote pluralism in Canada and abroad or when last week the Canadian Supreme Court validated seek religion by lifting the ban on Seek boys carrying daggers to schools. We don’t have to go too far to see these contradictions, just take a look at the conservative government in the province of Ontario. The same province that last month, after almost twenty-two months of struggle, managed to pursue its premier to put an end to Sharia court and all other Faith Based arbitration but is now trying to find ways to fund Islamic schools. How can a government that promotes the religions expect its followers not to put their faith above the law and individual civil rights? This is not only happening in Canada.  In England,

Tony Blair announced on August 7th 2005 that an estimated 120 to 150 independent Muslim schools will be offered "voluntary aided" status in line with almost 7000 Catholic, Church of England and Jewish schools”

65 million dollars are given to Islamic groups in Nigeria to endorse Sharia law and regulation in such a way that lightens its oppression against women.  Validation of religion has gone so far that freedom of expression, that was fought for, for the past 100 years, is now being phased out. Just pay attention to the actions of the Western governments towards caricatures of Mohammad in the press who one by one raced to apologize and condemn the artists.  Just recently the United Nations and the European Union have proposed to put into place a system to limit people’s freedom of expression when it comes to the criticizing of a religion.   As we can see all of the parties in power in the west are flirting with religious groups and then expecting that the violence against women to stop.  It is a joke to wish for an environment free of violence for women while endorsing, funding, validating, promoting the religions that are responsible for such violent actions. Obviously states cannot talk about integration while promoting and funding backwards, anti-woman, cultures and religions that segregate women from main stream society.  This is why I strongly believe that a political campaign is needed to see, to evaluate and to put forward political solutions to make sure that the governments exclude religion from state and all its laws, To make sure that no financial or moral support is given to religions or any religious activities, to make sure that the governments stay secular. Only then honor killing and all other types of abuse against women will be demolished

 

 

Homa Arjomand

www.nosharia.com

www.childrenfirstnow.com

homawpi@nosharia.com