Quebec's Status of Women Committee has released a 167-page report that primarily addresses the disturbing phenomenon of honour killings of girls and women, 17 of which have been officially designated as such in Canada since 1991. The report also considers strategies to combat non-lethal honour-motivated abuses, including genital mutilations, virginity testing, forced marriage and "excessive control."
One of the report's seven recommendations to the government is the creation of a plan to educate health-care workers, teachers and protection specialists who work closely with populations in cultural communities considered at highest risk. Another recommendation would change the law by stipulating that youth-protection agencies must inform parents when children report honour-motivated abuses to them.
The report has its conception in the revulsion experienced by all Canadians at the brutal 2009 murders of three Quebec sisters (Zainab, Sahar and Geeti) and their stepmother, Rona Amir, at the hands of their Afghan-born parents (Mohammad Shafia and Tooba Mohammad Yahya) and brother Hamed. The document is welcome: Honour-motivated crimes are a reality (albeit a rare one) in this country. But the immediate response from the Quebec government, exploiting it as a prop for its controversial Charter of Values — which would ban "conspicuous" religious accessories such as the hijab and yarmulke from public life — is unwelcome.