Back in June, in an "honour killing" murder trial now known across Canada, Muhammad Parvez and Waqas Parvez pleaded guilty to the 2007 murder of 16-year-old Aqsa Parvez (their daughter/sister respectively). According to media reports, not one of the 12 people present in the house could — or would — bear witness to the crime.
Regrettably, unless attitudes in some immigrant communities change, this may not be the last time Canadians hear of such tragedies. The same day the Parvez males pleaded guilty to murdering Aqsa for "dishonouring" their family, I happened to conduct a workshop in an elementary school for South Asian women in Toronto. I asked the participants why the boys and girls were segregated on the playground and learned that about 75 per cent of the children in this school are from one region of South Asia, the same one Aqsa Parvez came from.
While segregation of children by gender is not the school policy, the volunteer parents who monitor the playground and speak their language instruct the children in appropriate, culturally accepted behaviours. So, for example, a majority of the boys and girls wore native outfits and few spoke English, and the consensus among the 19 mothers in the workshop was that if Aqsa had obeyed her parents, she would still be alive today.