Aqsa Parvez and the future of feminism

48 posts / 0 new
Last post
jrose
Aqsa Parvez and the future of feminism

From rabble.ca's front page: http://www.rabble.ca/news/memory-aqsa-parvez-and-future-feminism

"Eve Hoque, Assistant Professor in Languages, Literatures and Linguistics, at York University, notes that media representations surrounding Aqsa's story reflected a "white-settler national narrative of oppressive vs. liberating cultures; it reduced multiculturalism to how 'we' can tolerate 'them' and solve their problems."

Such rhetoric was recently revived in an inflammatory Toronto Life article, against which Muslim feminists and their allies mounted wide public action, and which was subsequently defended by TL editor Sarah Fulford as bringing attention to confrontations between 'New' and 'Old World' values.

As it happened, the week this debate was raging, two white Toronto women were killed by their husbands - one a police officer. "When cases like that occur, we think, oh, what went wrong there?" says Hoque, "it's confounding and inexplicable. But in Aqsa's case it's easily dismissed as an 'honour killing', testing the limits of toleration."

The Montreal Massacre took place before the term 'multiculturalism' had earned its recent mint as a catch phrase for race-relations in Canada. The term became especially freighted and cumbersome after 9/11, and lately has begun to chafe. Feminism, meanwhile, has not enjoyed much sympathy in my own lifetime, but I see it rehabilitated, dusted off and soundly misused often enough in mainstream culture when the situation calls for it.

When certain persons must be imprisoned without trial, when certain countries must be invaded, when certain communities must be ostracized, even the vilest patriarchs are all too happy to invoke 'feminism' - or their weak understanding of it. Conservative leaders seem to have few qualms about vilifying feminism as the source of all things anti-family and awful, and then raising a feminist flag to front an amorphous 'war on terror.' It would be almost funny if not for the perplexing ways in which so many feminists - inevitably white feminists - willingly participate in such posturing. The sound heard from mainstream feminist camps in the wake of Aqsa's murder was a combination of racist muttering and bewildering silence."

 

A great article from rabble's front page.

Ghislaine

Honour Killings are a reality though in many countries and there any many Muslim feminists who speak about them.  Another reality is that some of the most oppressive nations towards women on Earth are Islamic theocracies (Saudi Arabia being the leading one imv). Religion of all stripes is also often a justification for violence against women and patriarchy and must be mentioned as one of the causes when doing an analysis.

 All of this does not diminish in any way the fact that most violence against women is done by men they know, especially murder. Canadian Forces wives are reported to experience higher levels of domestic assault, which leads me to believe some part of CF culture and mindset may play a part in this.  An examanation of violence against women in Islamic culture leads one to believe that the culture and mindset plays a role in this.

 Geez...just because one condemns ridiculous medieval Islamic patriarchal thugs does not mean one support invading Afghanistan or anywhere else. the neocon arguments that they are doing it the name of feminism are also moot when you consider Saudi. No one will ever invade this country and women are treated abysmally there.

nanu

it is both unfortunate and ironic that the response to jrose's comments on Sarah Ghabrial's article "The memory of Aqsa Parvez and the future of feminism" included some of the same rhetoric that Ghabrial points to as being troublesome in the conversations around Aqsa's life and death. 

if any analysis is to be specific and multi-layered (i.e. complex, full), making generalizations about millions of people and various religious and cultural (yes, there is a difference between the two!) practices does not provide for rigor. dropping a reference to a nation-state far removed from Aqsa's life and death (though closely related to the discourse Ghabrial takes up in her article) serves not to add complexity to the analysis, but rather contribute to efforts to "mount xenophobic vitriol against Canada's dark Others" as Ghabrial states. making a comparison between a specific institution with specific nation-state ties (even this generalization sits a bit uncomfy with me) and "a" culture that spans the globe with wide variety creates a flawed analysis, simply in empirical terms!

yes, theee are multiple "causes" for gender based oppression in addition to particular gendered power relations. Neither Ghabrial nor jrose are saying otherwise - nowhere in Ghislaine's response do i find reference to the specificities of Aqsa's life that Ghabrial so clearly lists. why are folks so resistant to talking about "here"?  

in order to more fully see the connection between the generalizing (conflating) statements uttered in the wake of Aqsa's death and the discourse surrounding Islamic women who reside in countries where Canada has a military stake, i would encourage a re-reading of Ghabrial's article, as i too (just like jrose) thought it to be quite good.

Maysie Maysie's picture

Posted with permission of the author:

Quote:

Tues Nov 11, 2008 To: Sarah Fulford, Editor-in-Chief
Toronto Life Magazine

Dear Ms. Fulford,

I was completely disappointed and disheartened by Mary Rogan's article, "Girl, Interrupted" in the December 2008 edition of Toronto Life magazine. I believe it is an irresponsible misrepresentation of the issues surrounding the death of young Aqsa Parvez, which blames culture and religion when, ultimately, this is yet another heinous, unacceptable case of violence against women and girls in Canada.

It is true that some young Muslim women struggle to develop their own identities, while attempting to reconcile family expectations with the pressures of fitting into mainstream Canadian society. As a young woman born and raised in the GTA, with parents who immigrated to Canada from Pakistan, I know this experience first hand. However, Rogan's article is another example of the media's misunderstanding and misrepresentation of religious practices, emphasizing "culture clash" which detracts from the underlying issue of gender-based violence. 

Rogan claims that "Canada prides itself on its multiculturalism and, to varying degrees of success, condemns institutionalized patriarchy." She asks, "Is it possible that Toronto has become too tolerant of cultural differences?" Where is her analysis? Institutionalized racism and patriarchy is rampant here, despite what we claim to be proud of. Multiculturalism is not the problem. There are no cultures that promote violence. Many Muslims have been practicing their faith peacefully in Canada for decades. Rogan suggests that the hijab itself is oppressive, yet there are many Muslim women in North America who wear the hijab and are empowered by it. Why blame culture when Aqsa's death was ultimately about abuse of male power, which affects women of all communities.

Rogan's overemphasis on the demographics of immigrants in Mississauga and the number of families that don't speak English as a first language can mislead readers to further link immigration with violence. It is the public trend now to vilify Muslims, and immigrants in general, and blame them for so-called "backward practices" that are seen to have no place in Canada, but the truth is Canadian women and girls of all races and faith groups are being assaulted and murdered at appalling rates, simply because they are female. Stop using culture, religion, and immigration as a scapegoat for women's inequality and the epidemic of violence against women and girls in Canada.

Farheen Beg, Toronto

 

Slumberjack

As I understand it at least, western religion and culture are the instruments through which violence against women is perpetuated.  Is it not reasonable within a discussion of male violence in Canada for example, to include the structures that have been created by men to facilitate and justify the violence?

Unionist

I find it somewhat chilling that people can use big words in long articles about the root causes of a woman's death without knowing what the facts are.

Slumberjack

bigcitygal wrote:

Posted with permission of the author:

Quote:

Rogan suggests that the hijab itself is oppressive, yet there are many Muslim women in North America who wear the hijab and are empowered by it. Why blame culture when Aqsa's death was ultimately about abuse of male power, which affects women of all communities.

but the truth is Canadian women and girls of all races and faith groups are being assaulted and murdered at appalling rates, simply because they are female. Stop using culture, religion, and immigration as a scapegoat for women's inequality and the epidemic of violence against women and girls in Canada.

 

I'm not aware of any circumstances within past Human history in any part of the world where the culture was developed and evolved by women that included self created provisions for their equality and well being.  Religion itself is a mechanism of male power created for their own benefit as a set of laws through which the other half of the human species is governed.  In the circumstances of ones own decision, where people choose for themselves to wear the hijab, it may be an empowering choice, yet the origins of the custom had little to do with the empowerment of women.

Many people will use a discussion regarding violence against women to advance an anti-immigrant agenda that is more to do with racism, because our society is receptive to it and the mingling of two issues suits their purposes.  To me it would seem valid to consider and abhor this for what it is, while still being able to recognize how males have dominated and transformed their respective societies through violence and the self created structures that make provision for the use of violence, in order to accommodate their own power.  Culture might have two definitions, one that is borne from geographic circumstances, while the other was universally created regardless of the geography through violent domination.

Maysie Maysie's picture

Quote:
Slumberjack: Many people will use a discussion regarding violence against women to advance an anti-immigrant agenda that is more to do with racism, because our society is receptive to it and the mingling of two issues suits their purposes.  To me it would seem valid to consider and abhor this for what it is, while still being able to recognize how males have dominated and transformed their respective societies through violence and the self created structures that make provision for the use of violence, in order to accommodate their own power.  Culture might have two definitions, one that is borne from geographic circumstances, while the other was universally created regardless of the geography through violent domination.

Slumberjack, this is a very good point. However, it's significant to note that when men of colour (or First Nations men) are violent towards women, this is immediately understood through a racist lens of "those" men are "more violent" towards their women.

When white men are violent, where is the cultural explanation? Usually there is outright bullshit denial ("good father", "under a lot of stress"), some other dumbass kind of excuse (violent video games, "the internet") but rarely anything about how Canadian culture encourages and condones violence against women.

The reality is, as you've said, that men dominate many/all societies and cultures through violence, but the missing piece is that women, in general, are simultaneously devalued. In the Canadian context this particularly applies to women of colour. The issue with Aqsa Parvez is that this tragedy is being used by the MSM to promote and encourage a racist agenda. This is the kind of death that would otherwise not be regarded as important. It's this construction that's problematic.

Why is the "culture" argument only drawn upon when it's about the actions of men of colour/First Nations men? 

Ghislaine

It is not racist to point out that traditional Pakistani Islamic tradition is patriarchal and violent against women. This mindset seems to have played a part in the alleged murder of young Aqsa Parvez. As unionist points out, we do not know all of the facts and the trail is about to start this week, so more facts will come out. From the reports that I have read based on quotes from her friends, she had a horrible home life and was scared of her father. They also claim that she was forbidden from going to school without a headcovering, but took it off at school.  Some Muslim women freely choose to cover themselves and this is their right and I hope it is reclaimed as a women's choice. However, many for many women it is not a choice as it should be and it has patriarchal roots as a practice.

If it turns out that this was an "honour killing" in the mind of the alleged murdereres, that is a fact that we should be able to discuss. This does not in any way lessen the importance of discussing the violence against women that is pervasive against all cultures and religions (or lack thereof) in this country and the fact that our justice system considers it a far lesser crime than it should be.

 Aqsa's school friends noticed that she does not have a headstone and have began fundraising to purchase one for her. The right-wing blogosphere has latched on to this unfortunately. http://muslimsagainstsharia.blogspot.com/2008/12/dishonored-in-life-dish...

 

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

bigcitygal wrote:
When white men are violent, where is the cultural explanation? Usually there is outright bullshit denial ("good father", "under a lot of stress"), some other dumbass kind of excuse (violent video games, "the internet") but rarely anything about how Canadian culture encourages and condones violence against women.

Megan Leslie - 'We live in a culture of casual misogyny'

Quote:
I have been attending December 6th events my entire adult life. It never feels any less somber. Less affecting. Less urgent. Nineteen years later, and where are we?

I was 16 when the Montreal Massacre happened. The victims seemed like adults, I remember thinking that. Women in their early 20s, studying engineering. It was all pretty far away from my teenage reality a small mining town.

But when I look at this list now, and read these 14 names and ages, it strikes me. They were so young. They seemed like adults, and yet, I'm several years older now than the oldest victim was then.

I've noticed over the years that we are very careful with ourselves when we discuss this shooting.

We do not to say the name of the killer, just as I am not going to today.

We also only talk about the fatalities. Not of the hit-list the shooter had prepared, containing the names of several prominent feminists, many of whom are our friends.

We hold the events at arm's length, and we squint.

In looking for answers, we ask ourselves: "why?".

Because we can take comfort in that answer to "why?"

It contains phrases that allow us some distance:

"Lone gunman."

"Isolated incident."

"Psychotic break."

Oh, we let ourselves think. That's why. All of those reasons are separate from me. Unique.

I am not culpable.

I am not in danger.

But the question we don't let ourselves ask is what.

What is it about our culture that made the shooter blame "feminists" for all his troubles?

What is it going to take to change things?

What can *I* do?

The answer to these questions is unsettling, because it makes us face uncomfortable facts:

We live in a culture of casual misogyny.

We live in a culture that pays attention to women most often when it wants to berate us, blame us, or compare us to each other.

And we don't do enough to fight it.

Via audra at breadnroses

Maysie Maysie's picture

Quote:
Ghislaine: It is not racist to point out that traditional Pakistani Islamic tradition is patriarchal and violent against women. 

Actually it is. But let's move on.

Returning to the reason why this thread is in the feminism forum, understanding violence against women in a feminist context can disempower the racist underpinnings of such statements. Here's how:

Because violence against women in Canada is condoned, the legal system doesn't prioritize actions of violence against women before they escalate to murderous. Women's lives aren't valued, which we can see from portrayals of women in the media. Violence is seen as acceptable behaviour in boys and men, which we can see from professional sports and popular culture.*  The police are given virtually no training in the area of either domestic violence or violence against women. Only from the lobbying of many women's groups are there now sexual assault teams and violence against women task forces within the police, and this is in Toronto, I have no idea what other cities and regions have as resources. Which of course are understaffed and underfunded.

Can you see the force of the systemic reality now? Even if we reduce Aqsa's father to a violent racist stereotype, he doesn't exist in a vacuum, nor does he exist outside of all these systems. 

*No, this doesn't mean that all boys and men grow up to be violent, but all are exposed to this early training, and all are taught that violence is acceptable, both against other men and against women. Men who resist this brainwashing are often marginalized by other men. 

Ghislaine

bigcitygal wrote:

Quote:
Ghislaine: It is not racist to point out that traditional Pakistani Islamic tradition is patriarchal and violent against women. 

Actually it is. But let's move on.

Returning to the reason why this thread is in the feminism forum, understanding violence against women in a feminist context can disempower the racist underpinnings of such statements. Here's how:

Because violence against women in Canada is condoned, the legal system doesn't prioritize actions of violence against women before they escalate to murderous. Women's lives aren't valued, which we can see from portrayals of women in the media. Violence is seen as acceptable behaviour in boys and men, which we can see from professional sports and popular culture.*  The police are given virtually no training in the area of either domestic violence or violence against women. Only from the lobbying of many women's groups are there now sexual assault teams and violence against women task forces within the police, and this is in Toronto, I have no idea what other cities and regions have as resources. Which of course are understaffed and underfunded.

Can you see the force of the systemic reality now? Even if we reduce Asqa's father to a violent racist stereotype, he doesn't exist in a vacuum, nor does he exist outside of all these systems. 

*No, this doesn't mean that all boys and men grow up to be violent, but all are exposed to this early training, and all are taught that violence is acceptable, both against other men and against women. Men who resist this brainwashing are often marginalized by other men. 

 Why is it racist to point out true facts about Pakistan? Or about the entire world?

 I agree with everything you wrote after that. I am not reducing Aqsa's family members to racist stereotypes - although I know there are many in the media who would like to do this. I am trying to go by the facts of the case, of which so far we know little. One fact is that Canada is a safer place for women than Pakistan.  One thing I do know is that religion is used to justify violence against women and this is done throughout the globe by Islam. It is also done by Christianity and Judaism. It is not racist to point this out. It is also not racist to point that our own culture does not value or respect women's right enough, even though are justice system has come along way and has many more female employees and policy designers than 20 years ago.

Why did Aqsa's father believe that she should not leave the house uncovered (as per her friends)? Why did he allegedgly kill her? Will he be given a harsher sentence if found guilty than white men who have killed their daughters or partner?

Maysie Maysie's picture

If I can leave my polite talk for a moment, as I believe we are closer in agreement than we both may have thought, Ghislaine.

From all accounts, Aqsa's father was an abusive asshole fuckwad shit. Abusers will use whatever is at their disposal, including religion, to justify their assholery.

That said, the continued and exclusive focus on the religion and nationality of the family serves the white Canadian landscape with a racist view of "why" this happened. A false view, btw.

In brief, why this happened was because her father is a violent, controlling, abusive piece of shit (who was backed up by all the societal mechanisms I referred to in my last post). To "believe" his religious "explanations" is to buy into his view of how bad her behaviour was, and how deserving of a violent response it was.

Abusers do that all the time! "She didn't have dinner ready on time" "She talked back to me" etc. Bullshit on all of them. It's never about them is it? That they need to refrain from hitting, yelling, terrifying, intimidating, etc the women in their families. Enough already. Fuck.

And I'll grant you, it isn't de facto racist to point out the religion and nationality of the family. It's almost impossible, however, to bring up those facts and NOT activate the racist machinations of Canadian society, which is why I refuse to go down that road in the context of babble. The slopes are slippery enough in December as it is.

If I want to talk about the details of patriarchy and violence in a culture/religion/nationality to which I don't belong, I will do my own reading and research, and also seek out women from those communities and listen to what they have to say about ways in which they resist, educate and work for change. 

Slumberjack

bigcitygal wrote:
When white men are violent, where is the cultural explanation? Why is the "culture" argument only drawn upon when it's about the actions of men of colour/First Nations men? 

This is how I’ve come to comprehend it, although the structural clumsiness of it will no doubt be indicative of my overall grasp.  White culture was developed and maintained by men.  Its maintenance involves making excuses for its own behavior, a constant activity to be sure, while smearing the blame onto others.  This ingrained mechanism of domination and denial becomes even more convenient when the focus can be shifted onto minorities.  What occurs as a result is a double-barreled assault on minority women through racist and misogynist views.  White western supremacy will look at a common problem such as domestic violence, that may have a common root cause across cultural communities, and arrive at different reasons entirely if it’s own race is part of the problem.  There will be one set of explanations for themselves, and another set for everyone else.  It will also latch itself onto any opportunity to advance its hegemonic ideals, as we see in the article linked within the OP.

You’re right.  When it comes to discussing these situations within non-white communities, focusing on the respective cultural practices is a distraction from the real issue, which actually plays into and supports supremacy.

martin dufresne

Agreed. And even when discussing issues of sexism in mostly white communities, a focus on particular minority cultures will automatically get all men (both white and minority) off the hook rather than examine their (common) self-interest in keeping women intimidated.

remind remind's picture

Ghislaine wrote:
Why is it racist to point out true facts about Pakistan? Or about the entire world?
Because it is the entire world, not just Pakistan.

Quote:
One fact is that Canada is a safer place for women than Pakistan.
Prove this, slap up some statistics and other information regarding violence against women so that we can do a compare. As it stands, it is your belief that you are expressing as "fact". I do not know this to be a "fact" and will not accept it as such.

Quote:
One thing I do know is that religion is used to justify violence against women and this is done throughout the globe by Islam. It is also done by Christianity and Judaism.
Now here you have separated "Islam" from Judeo-Christian religions. You start out with the broader use of "religion" is used to justify but close the sentence, with a sole foucs of "Islam". Only to start a new sentence adding on it is also done by Christianity and Judaism. This does 2 things; it sets Islam apart from the "other" mainstream religions, as if there is no compare, and it denotes that Judaism and Christianity do this to a lesser scale than does Islam and are therefore "better" religions. And this indeed is NOT factual.

Quote:
It is not racist to point this out.
Yes it is, in fact.

Quote:
Why did Aqsa's father believe that she should not leave the house uncovered (as per her friends)? Why did he allegedgly kill her? Will he be given a harsher sentence if found guilty than white men who have killed their daughters or partner?

Why do "Christian" fathers/mothers tell their daughters they must dress modestly, and preserve their "chastity"? And why do they murder their children's independant thinking, or indeed caste them out of the home, and ostracize them, if they do not behave appropriately to their religious beliefs? Or why do some Christian sects believe it is okay to beat your child into compliance?

The reason why it is racist expression is because you are viewing the actions from a racially  and/or religiously biased lense without critically thinking about comparing to see your personal notions are correct.

___________________________________________________________
"watching the tide roll away"

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

remind wrote:

Ghislaine wrote:
One fact is that Canada is a safer place for women than Pakistan.
Prove this, slap up some statistics and other information regarding violence against women so that we can do a compare. As it stands, it is your belief that you are expressing as "fact". I do not know this to be a "fact" and will not accept it as such.

[url=The">http://www.du.edu/intl/humanrights/violencepkstn.pdf][u]The facts are readily available for those who are interested.[/url]

 

 

[IMG]http://i38.tinypic.com/1r9lpy.gif[/IMG]

Ghislaine

remind wrote:

Ghislaine wrote:
Why is it racist to point out true facts about Pakistan? Or about the entire world?
Because it is the entire world, not just Pakistan.

Quote:
One fact is that Canada is a safer place for women than Pakistan.
Prove this, slap up some statistics and other information regarding violence against women so that we can do a compare. As it stands, it is your belief that you are expressing as "fact". I do not know this to be a "fact" and will not accept it as such.

Quote:
One thing I do know is that religion is used to justify violence against women and this is done throughout the globe by Islam. It is also done by Christianity and Judaism.
Now here you have separated "Islam" from Judeo-Christian religions. You start out with the broader use of "religion" is used to justify but close the sentence, with a sole foucs of "Islam". Only to start a new sentence adding on it is also done by Christianity and Judaism. This does 2 things; it sets Islam apart from the "other" mainstream religions, as if there is no compare, and it denotes that Judaism and Christianity do this to a lesser scale than does Islam and are therefore "better" religions. And this indeed is NOT factual.

Quote:
It is not racist to point this out.
Yes it is, in fact.

Quote:
Why did Aqsa's father believe that she should not leave the house uncovered (as per her friends)? Why did he allegedgly kill her? Will he be given a harsher sentence if found guilty than white men who have killed their daughters or partner?

Why do "Christian" fathers/mothers tell their daughters they must dress modestly, and preserve their "chastity"? And why do they murder their children's independant thinking, or indeed caste them out of the home, and ostracize them, if they do not behave appropriately to their religious beliefs? Or why do some Christian sects believe it is okay to beat your child into compliance?

The reason why it is racist expression is because you are viewing the actions from a racially  and/or religiously biased lense without critically thinking about comparing to see your personal notions are correct.

 

 

Read M Spector's link.  I thought this was common knowledge and did not need a direct link (and the new babble will not let me hyperlink, which is driving me crazy). I mentioned Islam before referring to Christianity or Judaism because this case involves an alleged Islamic murderer who is alleged to have some asshole patriarchal viewpoint that he believes to be Islamic law. It is not racist to say this. I have no problem at all with Muslim people, but I have huge problems with the religion. Everything you wrote about a Christian family was factual and horrible as well. There are a gazillion interpretations of all religions and I don't fucking care which ones some sect or another believes are "right", they all have a disregard for women's rights.  

 From M Spector's link: 

 "Male dominance and commodification subjects women to violence on a daily
basis in Pakistan. Approximately seventy-percent to ninety-percent of Pakistani women
are subjected to domestic violence.4 Typical violent acts include, but are not limited to,
murder in the name of “honor,” rape, spousal abuse including marital rape, acid attacks,
and being burned by family members (often labeled an accident by family members). A
rape occurs in Pakistan every two hours with one in every 12,500 women being victims
of rape. Five women per day are killed and two women per day in the region of Punjab
alone are kidnapped.5 Incidents of women being burned by men throwing acid, an act that
severely disfigures its victims, has increased as well.
It was estimated that over 1,000 women were killed in the name of honor in 1999
alone, a phenomenon that is growing annually."

 

 

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture

That's interesting. How many women in Canada are victimized by sexual assualt. I once read it is as high as 1 in 4. And I think you are missing an important point being made: when a white Canadian kills his spouse or girlfriend, as common as that is, isn't that an honour killing? After all, what is he avenging? And when it happens, all too often, why do we never view it from a cultural context? That is the inherent racism. When an Islamic man kills a woman, we all smugly say "culture", but when a white North American man kills a woman (or an entire family) we all say "isolated incident". How many isolated incidents make for a culture?

The point is we refuse to view from a cultural context when the killers are white males and North American as that would entail examining our own misogynistic tendencies. And while cops are never racist, Canadians are never misogynistic. There are just a few bad apples is all. It is the culture of those other, lesser people that is misogynistic. And that justifies dropping bombs on all of them.

Anyway, as this is the feminist forum, that is all I have to say.

Slumberjack

M. Spector wrote:

The facts are readily available for those who are interested.

When comparing facts, I generally find it helpful to have access to more than one example.

Quote:

Stalking

11% - percentage of women aged 15 and older who stated that they were stalked in a way that caused them to fear for their safety or the safety of someone close to them. This was the equivalent of 1.4 million women. Among the victims of stalking, 9% of women reported that they had been stalked by either a current or previous spouse, or common-law partner.

Violence against women in Canada... by the numbers

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Are you seriously trying to use statistical cherry-picking to "prove" that women are treated as badly in Canada as in Pakistan?

 

[IMG]http://i38.tinypic.com/1r9lpy.gif[/IMG]

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Is that comment meant for Slumberjack, or for the general sentiment in this conversation that it is racist to point out as an explanation for Aqsa Parvez's murder that Pakistan's religious and patriarchal oppression is particularly dangerous to women?

Because if it's the first, you are wilfully ignoring the other thoughtful analysis and explanation going on in the thread, indeed, the other things Slumberjack has said in this thread elaborating his position; if it's the second, you are rather guilty of cherry-picking yourself--again, ignoring the position spelled out at length in this and other trheads like it (I think there have been at least two other Aqsa Parvez threads, for example). Did you, Spector, incidentally, read the article in the OP?

The point, of course, as it has always been, is that to say that 'traditional Pakistani Islamic tradition is patriarchal and violent against women' as a way to explain crimes like the murder of Aqsa Parvez, colours violent crimes of immigrants (usually Muslim immigrants) as culturally derrived crimes--that is, natural and indigenous to Islam--whereas everyday'white' violence against women is considered a one-off, isolated.

This is why similar numbers from Canada and other Western countries are useful--like, for instance, the 5% prosecution success rate for rape allegations in the UK (where, according to estimates, only 1 in 4 rapes are reported in the first place) Such numbers join unflinching evidence that Canada too has an intrinsically violently misogynist culture. Any attempt to point out that Aqsa Parvez died because Pakistan is misogynist represents a craven diversion from this very explicit fact. It is nothing short of moral blindness. Moreover, it is precisely the same kind of narrative that justifies Canada's despicable acts of colonial agression in Afghanistan and Iraq.

As a final aside, I might point out that the article cited by Spector carries a misleading bias. I'm not really sure where it comes from, but sentences like this:

 

Quote:
Male dominance and commodification subjects women to violence on a daily basis in Pakistan. Approximately seventy-percent to ninety-percent of Pakistani women are subjected to domestic violence.4 Typical violent acts include, but are not limited to, murder in the name of "honor," rape, spousal abuse including marital rape, acid attacks, and being burned by family members (often labeled an accident by family members).

 are disingenuous. The second sentence is cited, and implicitly supports the first sentence (an editorial comment) and the third (an unsupported assertion with no relation to the cited study). I have no doubt that Pakistan is a very dangerous place for women, but, in my interpretation, this 'study' is less interested in providing us with 'the facts' than it is in supporting its conclusion that seeks--explicitly--to decontextualize such violence and exercise Western moral superiority to rescue Pakistani women--Stephen Harper and the Canadian Armed Forces would love to get a hold of this study.

Ghislaine

Canada is a better and safer place to be a woman than Pakistan. It is not perfect and we still have a long way to go. However, this is a fact. 

To go back to the thread title, I think feminism needs to recognize these facts. We need to be able to to name and describe the systematic, legal and societal reasons that make Canada a better place to be a woman than some other places. This does not mean acceptance of the continual high rates of violence against women or of the justice system's disregard and devalueing of women, but it can serve as a starting point.

 The alleged murderer(s)'s religious and cultural views seemed to have played a part in this horrific crime.  However, her killer still thought he could get away with this here.

Whydid so many of Aqsa's friends claim to know that she had a horrible home life and was scared of her father? Did school officials know? Could anything have been done to protect her or remove her from this home sooner?

Maysie Maysie's picture

Quote:
Ghislaine: Why did so many of Aqsa's friends claim to know that she had a horrible home life and was scared of her father? Did school officials know? Could anything have been done to protect her or remove her from this home sooner?

Sadly, we can't go down this road. Violence against women, and the literal and legal ownership of both male and female children, until they turn 16 for certain legalities, 18 for others, and them sometimes 21, means that the parents, and specifically fathers, have ownership rights above all else. Fathers are the ones who are believed first, and they generally have more financial power and social influence.

There are distressingly few preventative actions we can take (but we can start a thread about them), unless a woman/child alleges abuse, and this would only represent a very small percentage anyways. Never mind those who allege abuse and are then not believed, and need to return to the abuser.

We can't bring this discussion down to the personal "What could have been done in this particular case?" without recognizing the huge systems that are in place that support the abuser. Always it's the abuser who's supported and not anyone else.

And I guess I need to say this, which is not directed at anyone in particular. Yesterday I felt the thread has really bridged some common ground and understanding, and that Slumberjack, Ghislaine and I, who don't often agree on such matters, had reached a place of comfortable agreement, on such a difficult topic and issue. The discussion has since turned into "who's worse off than whom". In the larger scheme of things, this is completely irrelevant to anyone who is actually experiencing ongoing violence. Too abstract for me. But I worked on the front lines, and now work with those on the front lines. This issue will never be abstract to me.

I will say again, that every non-Western country that anyone can throw stats about, regarding high rates of violence against women, in the racist Canadian context, only reinforces and justifies the neo-colonial attitude that Canada maintains about "over there" (including of course FN populations and communities of colour here in Canada). And every non-Western country that anyone throws stats about I will ask: where are the grassroots women's groups in regions, cities, centres in that country? What work are they doing? What changes are they making that don't make the international news? 

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

bigcitygal wrote:

The discussion has since turned into "who's worse off than whom". In the larger scheme of things, this is completely irrelevant to anyone who is actually experiencing ongoing violence. Too abstract for me.

You can thank remind for that:

remind wrote:
Prove this, slap up some statistics and other information regarding violence against women so that we can do a compare. As it stands, it is your belief that you are expressing as "fact". I do not know this to be a "fact" and will not accept it as such.

 

 [IMG]http://i38.tinypic.com/1r9lpy.gif[/IMG]

Slumberjack

It is a difficult issue.  For those of us who have not had exposure to it to the degree that others have, there is much to learn, and frankly, it really should fall to ourselves to seperate reality from perceptions, instead of having it seperated for us.  I haven't spent much time contributing anything in this forum, which is a good thing, because what little I have posted is commensurate with my understanding of the topics.  The topic at hand caught my attention, because I recall when the story first appeared in the MSM.  My partner wears a hijab as a matter of choice, while I have no interest whatsoever in religion, although I was raised as a Catholic.  I do take part in some of the local community activities, but only because my family and sons are involved with it.  Needless to say, we all have differing views on some social issues.  It seems that whenever something like this appears, my fellow white co-workers will attempt to seek information from me as to what Muslims think about whatever it is the MSM is reporting on, as if I have any particular insight to offer.  Most of the time when this occurs, my reply is simply that they will have to ask people within the small Muslim community where I live, because I have no idea what's on their mind about any particular topic.  That didn't seem to put an end to the occasional questions, and I was asked about my views on the Asqa Parvez story, and references were made in some questions by my co-workers about the inherent nature of that religion.  The only answer that came to me, because I thought a response was necessary at that particular time due to the nature of the sterotype inquiries, was to remind them that the majority of our annual workplace fundrasing efforts goes towards the local women's shelter, and that when they can figure out why that place is always full with battered women and children, then they would have their answer.

Ghislaine

The University of Guelph has [url=http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/Canada/2009/02/12/8362706-sun.html] turned down [/url] a proposed memorial tree to Aqsa Parvez on their campus.

Maysie Maysie's picture

Do you have a link, Ghislaine?

Maysie Maysie's picture

On a related note, this seems relevant to post in this thread. I met the two editors at Granny Boots the other night and they were incredible. Anyone who despairs that there are no "young feminists" needs to come to this:

Quote:

Celebration of Resistance and Self Defense
Launch of the Premiere issue of AQSA ZINE

THURSDAY FEBRUARY 26, 7pm
toronto women's bookstore
73 harbord st. at Spadina

donations welcomed, proceeds will be used for the printing of forthcoming AQSA ZINE issues
we regret our bathroom is not wheelchair accessible
all our courses and events are trans-inclusive

Join us for a night of readings, spoken word and poetry by Muslim women in Toronto and beyond from the forthcoming AQSA ZINE Issue #1: Resistance and Self Defense.

Artists include Shadi Eskandani, Rosina Kazi, Golie and many more.

AQSA ZINE is a grassroots zine open to 16-35 year old women and trans people who self-identify as Muslim. It is a creative avenue for us to express ourselves, share our experiences, and connect with others.

In Arabic, 'aqsa' implies the furthermost, as in reaching out to the furthest possible point. AQSA ZINE aims to motivate the utmost resistance to oppression in all its forms. 16-year-old Aqsa Parvez, who was murdered on December 16, 2007, also inspires this zine. It is to honour her and other Muslims who experience and resist violence. We strive to work from a feminist, anti-oppressive, pro-choice, queer and trans positive framework.

Deadline for submissions for AQSA ZINE Double Issue #2: Immigration, Deportation and Migration/ Love, Sex and Marriage is March 23rd, 2009.

*Please note that the use of cameras, audio and/or visual recording devices will not be permitted during the launch.
Additional Information aqsazine@gmail.com
http://aqsazine.blogspot.com/

 

Ghislaine

Thanks for that link Maysie - very cool! (I did have a link in my post above, as well, but it is the same colour as the other text in the new babble. Click on the words "turned down").

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Honi soit qui honneur et pense

Quote:
What to make of the arrests and murder charges in that tragic and bizarre drowning last month when a Drown car inexplicably was submerged in a canal near Kingston?

Now we hear that the father, mother and brother of the three teenage girls who died have been charged with first-degree murder. But there's more:

Quote:
Montreal residents Mohammed Shafi, an electronics businessman, wife Tooba Mohammad Yhaya and 18-year-old son Hamid Mohammed Shafi were also charged with the killing of the fourth person found in the Rideau Canal, 50-year-old Rona Amir Mohammed. Though Shafi originally told Kingston police Mohammed was his cousin, she is actually his first wife, Insp. Brian Begbie said at a 2 p.m. news conference.

Begbie and chief Stephen Tanner would not directly say why they believe the family committed the murders. Asked whether he believed they were "honour" killings, as suggested in an email to police by Mohammed's sister Diba Masoomi, who lives in France, Tanner suggested it was possible but not certain.

The reflexive use of ''honour killings'' when it comes to the murder of Muslim women racist and repulsive -- not to mention inaccurate. There is no ''honour'' in killing wives, daughters and sisters. Quite the opposite.

Femicide is femicide.

If a man -- any man, whether a member of a criminal biker gang or just some goof -- takes out another guy as payback for being disrespected, do we say ''honour killing?''

No, we do not.

When a Christian husband born and bred in Canada kills his wife for walking out on him, or cheating on him, do we call it an ''honour killing?''

No we do not.

 

Unionist

This horrendous incident near Kingston is going to be the latest poster-child for racism and Islamophobia. The police lost no time in laying the groundwork for that.

 

martin dufresne

And I bet you that no one will point out that our own Christian culture puts principles (or profits) above human life in sending our sons and daughters to kill and be killed in Afghanistan.

 

Catchfire Catchfire's picture
remind remind's picture

There is also the recent addition of the 2 girls and mother who  drowned in a Bestwestern pool, also in the same area, when they did not know how to swim and the pool was supposedly locked, that is also adding fuel to this  racist fire.

Infosaturated

Is there any evidence that Muslim women in Canada are in any greater danger of being killed than other Canadian women?  I'm guessing but I think not.  Has there been an increase in women being killed since Muslims started immigrating to Canada.  I don't think so.

The heavy focus on "honour killing" makes it seem as though this is a Muslim issue.  When other women are killed it's just a single tragic incident not a societal problem.  When feminists identified the Montreal Massacre as a mysogynist event they were told they were wrong.  It had nothing to do with mysogyny in general this guy was just a crackpot who happened to hate women.

Separating them all up and saying, well, this one is because the guy was insane, and this one is because of Muslim beliefs (ignoring the fact that millions of Muslims don't kill their wives or daughters) and this other one is because he was depressed and his wife left him and the other one because he lost his job refuses to acknowledge the commonality of violence against women at the hands of men. Treating these as individual events or as a Muslim event absolves society of any responsibility.  In this case, we can say "what can we do? It's those Muslims and their honour killings."  If Muslim men in Canada don't kill women at any greater rate than non-Muslim men then it has nothing to do with their religion. Religion is just the excuse these particular men use.  Strip them of their religion and these women and girls still would have died because all the killings are about the same thing.  Control over women.

 

Infosaturated

And away we go...

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/s/capress/090723/national/honour_killings

MONTREAL - A psychiatry professor at Newfoundland's Memorial University who has studied so-called honour killings said he is working with Justice Canada to define the term in the hopes that it will be included in the Criminal Code.

"The legal system in Canada was not familiar up to now about the context of honour killing and now cases are coming up," said Dr. Amin Muhammad, who estimated it has surfaced in about a dozen cases in Canada.

Muhammad says it is becoming more common as people from countries where such acts persist immigrate to Canada.

Ghislaine

What about that fact that it is Muslim women themselves who are calling this an honour killing?

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Let me rephrase your (unsurprising) question, Ghislaine: why is it that when one French woman sends an email to the Kingson police force speculating that this could have been a 'crime of honour' (which could just as easily describe Hamlet's murder of Claudius), all national news outlets splash 'honour killing' on their headlines like they're running out of vegetable-based ink?

Maysie Maysie's picture

What's that supposed to mean, Ghislaine?

Muslim women have called Aqsa's murder not an honour killing.

Please see comments by Meera Sethi and Farheen Beg at the link here.

Ghislaine

I mean that if they are describing it that way and they are from that culture, why should I not respect their description of it? If one of the victim's own sisters describes it that way - why should we not respect her description? The psychiatrist noted above in infosaturated's story calls it that and the UN uses the same terminology.

martin dufresne

I hope that this trial isn't reduced to a plea-bargained deal and that the specific alleged justifications of this mass murder come out. I think that the notion of "honour killing" needs to be plucked away from Islam-haters and extended to murders of all women that disobey men's will and counter male plans or "self-esteem". 

Racialized women are being particularly discriminated against in such murders because, according to women from these communities, police officers and prosecutors do not sanction male "spite killers" as systematically as they do when White women are killed. An example: the yet unpunished killing of Milia Abrar, eleven years ago in Montreal. Most murders of women that are in or thought to be in prostitution could also be read as "honour" killings by dissatisfied men.

 

Unionist

martin dufresne wrote:

I hope that this trial isn't reduced to a plea-bargained deal and that the specific alleged justifications of this mass murder come out. I think that the notion of "honour killing" needs to be plucked away from Islam-haters and extended to murders of all women that disobey men's will and counter male plans or "self-esteem".

 

Hear, hear.

ETA: Oh by the way, I've found a real example of "honour killing". I posted it [url=http://rabble.ca/comment/1041800/logic-murderers]over here.[/url]

Infosaturated

We may have stumbled on an approach we can use very effectively.  Let's start referring to all "honour" killings as such.  That is, any woman who leaves a man and is murdered by him is also an "honour" killing as it is his wounded pride and sense of ownership that prompts the murder. 

Infosaturated

http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/kill+your+child+must+crazy/1822198/s...

A 2006 survey showed that 86 per cent of Afghans oppose polygamy, she said.

....

“Someone once said to me, ‘In Canada, you call it crimes of passion. Here, we call it honour killing.’

“It’s neither: It’s femicide.’ ”

“We need to remember this is murder, and nothing should distract from that.”

Violence against women is endemic in societies where men wield control over women’s lives, she said. However, she pointed out that patriarchal thinking is not limited to the Middle East and Asia.

“There are Canadian men who stalk and intimidate their wives and commit murder. Is that an honour killing?”

 

 

remind remind's picture

Antonia has an interesting blog posting on Broadsides

Quote:
JJ caught two Canadian conservative bloggers in a lie. Specifically, the usual ''Where are the feminists?'' crap that the right spouts for no reason at all -- except to bash feminism.

But first, a little background.

Hearken back to this post, about those inexplicable drowning murders of three Afghanistan-born teens and, as it turns out, their father's first wife. You will recall my disgust at the reflex labeling of these kiloings as ''honour killings.'

~snip~

My point here is to show how conservatives, who claim we don't need feminism, are full of garbage on these horrible murders and feminism. Right-wingers will use any excuse, even if it founded on a lie, to attempt to discredit feminism because their agenda is to deprive women of equal rights.

h/t BnR

remind remind's picture

Moved from the Women Food Thread

Interestingly, feminists again are attempted to be portrayed as communists, nothing like a little BS fear mongering on the side.

http://www.etherzone.com/2009/mako072709.shtml

RosaL

remind wrote:

Moved from the Women Food Thread

Interestingly, feminists again are attempted to be portrayed as communists, nothing like a little BS fear mongering on the side.

http://www.etherzone.com/2009/mako072709.shtml

 

Well, if any of that history is true, good for the CPUSA!

(And yes, I wish they'd stop supporting the Democrats, too Frown)