“Honor killings are acts of vengeance, usually death, committed by male family members against female family members, who are held to have brought dishonor upon the family. A woman can be targeted by (individuals within) her family for a variety of reasons, including: refusing to enter into an arranged marriage, being the victim of a sexual assault, seeking a divorce—even from an abusive husband—or (allegedly) committing adultery. The mere perception that a woman has behaved in a way that “dishonors” her family is sufficient to trigger an attack on her life”, Human Rigths Watch

SURREY – In some countries or regions honor killings are everyday events almost considered as a “normal” and just added to previous statistical data. Others are not aware of this events up to the moment when one of them strikes close to the home or even your own family. Reasons for this horrible crimes are different, in majority of cases related to religious or just personal reasons, and in total disagreement with common sense or reasoning. Here in Canada we saw several of these crimes in last few years, probably one of them not long ago in the case of Ravinder Kaur Bhangu of Surrey.

United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)estimates approximately 5000 women and girls are killed by members of their own families every year. If we simplify this number, even if this is only approximation, we’ll face ourselves with cruel fact that 15 women or girls were killed daily.

According to same organization leaders in honor killings are Middle East and Southwest Asia with Indian subcontinent as majority leader. According to human rights organizations only in Turkey in period of five years from 2003 to 2008 more than 1000 women were killed by family members. These cases are not exclusively confined to mentioned region and as as we learned that larger number of them is happening in the West in our own neighborhoods and communities.

Reason why this or that women or girl is killed are usually so ridiculous for people grown up in western world that majority of fathers or brothers would never think to kill because of them. From several highly media covered cases we learned that young and innocent females were killed because they didn’t wear hijab or lived “too westernized” lives.

In late 2007 Aqsa Parwez, b. 1991, was killed by her father and brother in a case of Islamic honor killing because she didn’t wear hijab and tried to live an “inappropriate” life. One young life is taken away just because someone, in this case father and brother, decide to act as God and pretend to have right to decide on life and death. Two years earlier Hatun Surucu, German born with Turkish ancensty, didn’t want to live with her husband in arrange marriage and lived “famous” westernized life. Her brother take a law and justice in his own hands and take her life in extreme crime against humanity and human life. Amrit Kaur Ubhi in 2010 in UK lost her life because her father felt same as Surucu’s brother, only distinction was that she date non-Sikh man.

Rakhi bracelet (Photo: The City of Surrey)

Last month we have a case of Ravinder Kaur Bhangu stabbed to death at her work place in Surrey. Event if we don’t know all details regarding this case, I’m pretty sure that some of already mentioned elements could be subscribed to the list of reasons. Marriage problems and her decision to live with her aunts away from her husband lead to his wrongful actions which claimed her life in one of worst crimes in Surrey in last few years.

How to stop this wave of violence against the most vulnerable and fragile part of our society, a part which should be protected and praised for all good which comes from our mothers, wives, sisters and daughters?

Stronger and broader education on values of society, laws and cultural heritage of Canada should or better to say must executed in process of immigration. This values should be considered as most important elements in consideration if someone would be able to enter to Canada in first place. It is too late to do that when someone spent several years here and applies for citizenship.

All levels of government are able to conduct some sort of programs in this field and other educational fields in favor of changing mindsets of new Canadian citizens or at least Permanent Resident status bearers. And our obligation is to ask them to act.

Lately we saw two prospective and promising projects started by The City if Surrey and Work Safe BC, even if it seems that they’re coming little but late. The City of Surrey under leadership of Councillor Barinder Rasode started project “Rakhi” as part of this fight for our female members of families.

“On August 13, Rakhi marks a special occasion observed in India, which honours the relationship between brothers and sisters. The ceremony involves the tying of a rakhi (thread) by a sister on her brother’s wrist as a symbol of love and respect between them.The City of Surrey is embracing this important intercultural tradition to encourage kinship and respect amongst brothers, sisters and cousins within all communities of Surrey.Purple ribbons designed by local artist Karen Lipsett-Kidd are available for $5 at select Save-on Foods locations, Fruiticana, and Surrey City Hall to commemorate the occasion.Proceeds go to the City of Surrey’s Coalition Against Domestic Violence”, states The City of Surrey web site.

“This awareness campaign is not only about highlighting an important issue that unfortunately exists in every community, it’s about inclusion. We want to highlight a South Asian tradition and introduce it into the broader community. We have more in common than we realize, and our shared respect for family values is one example of that commonality”, said Councillor Barinder Rasode on presentation of Rakhi Project. 

WorkSafe BC has been developing a handbook and online training resource for employers for more than a year, but as it is revealed they come out with concrete informations upon Bhangu case. Both guidelines are designed to help employers aware of their legal obligations around violence prevention on the job. Also will contain information and training to help employers recognize the signs and symptoms of domestic abuse.

If these two projects succeed in their Intension number of domestic abuse cases could be reduced in significant size preventing death of many innocent women’s and girls all over Canada. Conservative government and Prime Minister Harper promised in May that they tackle with crime adding new sorts of crimes on list of most severe crimes and this is one of them. Domestic violence and honor killings are for sure the best candidates for new laws and stronger punishment, this would send strong message that they’re are not acceptable and welcomed in Canada.

Enough is enough, let’s stop unlawful deaths of innocent women and girls just because someone wants to be God.