Canadian government needs to act on cultural violence 0
With the Shafia trial over and the verdict in, we're left with a hard, undeniable reality: in Canada, some girls are being oppressed, abused and killed for trying to experience the same freedoms and equality as their peers.
Freedom and equality are values that make Canada the best place in the world to live - and the best place to be a woman. It's the reason why people choose to live here.
We must do everything we can do to make sure that every woman and girl is free and equal in Canada, regardless of where they are from, or what the accepted practices are in their culture.
We haven't been doing enough.
Back in December, I wrote about how our system is failing girls who are at risk and under attack for simply wanting to be regular teenagers.
Our system protects minors from abuse at home, but it failed the Shafia girls who had reportedly reached out for help to law enforcement and social workers. The system, it appears, is not designed to deal with abuse that stems from a cultural background, and young women are falling through the cracks, ending in tragedy.
We need to face reality and invest in programs to protect women at risk of this sort of brutal violence.
It's good to see the government doing just that. Rona Ambrose, Minister for Status of Women, has announced her department's support for a program to educate police officers and social workers about so-called 'honour-related' violence. Her department is also supporting groups in ethnic communities in their work to educate young immigrant women and girls about culturally motivated violence.
Programs targeted at addressing 'honour' violence are a step in the right direction.
While cultural violence and domestic violence are not one and the same; they both need to be addressed head on. The movement to end 'honour' violence is similar to the movement to end domestic violence, an issue really brought out in the open during the 1970s and 80s. At first, it was not something society wanted to talk about. It was typically considered a private, behind-the-doors matter. Now it is out in the open and women have many avenues for help.
We can't hide from cultural violence. Its presence in Canada is disturbing, and it's time to get it out in the open and address it head on.