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Montreal Gazette: In the Canadian city of Ottawa, officials are considering adding "honour killing" to the Criminal Code. These violent crimes are often directed against girls and women and carried out by male relatives, often with the permission of older females and are thought to restore family honour and dignity.
"The federal government yesterday affirmed its zero-tolerance stance against 'honour killing,' declaring such 'barbaric cultural practices' as 'heinous abuses' with 'no place in Canadian society.' Rona Ambrose, minister responsible for the status of women, said the government is taking gender-based violence 'very seriously' and called on women's groups and members of the immigrant community to help tackle these "heinous abuses."
Her announcement was apparently prompted by this weekend's release of a report focusing on the growing problem of the abuse of girls and women in Canada's immigrant communities. The report, by the Frontier Centre for Public Policy, outlines 14 recommendations for Ottawa, including mandatory sessions for male sponsors and sponsored women on gender-equality in Canada. Ambrose said the government is already working on some of the recommendations and is "looking at" others, including the launch of programs on television that could be used to reiterate the consequences of abuse. She also said the government is looking at adding "honour killing" as a separate Criminal Code charge.
The notion of honour killings, to "cleanse" a family name and restore honour, are most likely to take place in the South Asian community. A number of high-profile cases have catapulted the issue into the spotlight. In a report on the problem, Aruna Papp, a Toronto-based social worker who deals with domestic violence, argues that honour killings represent a new type violence against women in Canada. She said it is a phenomenon that demands the attention of researchers, community leaders, and politicians.