As we in Canada mourn the murder of a young girl at the hands of her father the issues of domestic violence, culture clash and Islam have become front page headlines nationwide. I’ve read different versions of the young girs struggles – her friends say she didn’t want to wear hijab, her Muslim friends said she just wanted to be ‘free’ and ‘be loved’. Some hint at a boy in the picture, others vehemently deny this. Whatever the truth is what is clear is that she was a teenager, rebelling perhaps, chaffing at the bit as most of us did at that age. What she had to contend with though was something many of us never had to worry about – the fact that her father would end up killing her in what one can only assume was a fit of rage. Friends testify to the fact that the young girl sported bruises, and spoke of being afraid to go home. Who knows really, until the hysteria settles what the truth is or was. All we can do is look at the facts. A young life was extinguished by that very person who was supposed to protect her. It reminds us in a most stark manner that domestic violence is not only between partners, but the entire household.
“Do Not Blame Islam” screamed one headline. That became a soundbite used across the nation as one Imam tried handle the media. Another person attempted to explain that women need to be righteous because they are the teachers of young children in the family. The argument was essentially that “while we of course condemn her fatheres actions we understand why he may have lost his mind.” It’s the same argument used when a woman is raped…. “what were you doing there?” “what were you wearing?” – What kind of nonsense is this? Being a concerned parent doesn’t mean you kill your children. Being a strict parent doesn’t mean you kill your children. I couldn’t believe that there are people who cannot just say simply that it is an outrage. It is a crime. It is sickening that this happened to our community. It had nothing to do with hijab it had to do with control. It has to do with the concept that in many cultures women are the ones saddled with bearing the brunt of “honour” in a family.
Instead of rushing to defend where truthfully defense is not needed, use the attention to this crime to push forward on youth centres, the hiring of more cultural, religious minorites in the social services arena. Islam doesn’t need us to defend it and to be perfectly honest when we try we end up looking like asses. But the young, the innocent, the vulnerable, and the women who silently endure, they need our defense.
And right in the middle of this tragedy, I see that the New York Post graced us with another tasteless headline. I almost lost my supper when I read this. I can’t believe someone thought this would be funny. How many women survived another day to pick up the paper and be confronted with that awful headline? The reminder is constant that we have still far to go when it comes to violence against women whether it be in mainstream or religious communites.