Tuesday, December 18, 2007

More than Culture

I kno mi roots n culture (murderer!)
Shabba Ranks - Roots n Culture

The facts are this: A Mississauga father strangled his 16 year old daughter Aqsa Parvez to death last week. The media pounced on the story because the two had apparently been arguing over whether the Muslim girl should wear her hijab or not.

It became a story not about domestic violence or child abuse but rather a story about how
cultures clash or how some immigrants can't integrate into western society or basically those evil Muslims.

I tend to disagree somewhat with the media's coverage.

To me, assuming that the hijab was part of the issue since I've read other stories that say it was just a fraction of what the arguing was about, its more a story of a child who challenged her parent's rules and a parent whose reaction to that challenge got out of hand. There was a cultural aspect because of what they were allegedly fighting about but this story could have played out exactly the same way in other cultures or religious families.

So to me I just see the media's reporting as sensationalizing the story to get us to fall for that "evil Muslim" or that look how different these immigrants are from us angle that they would like us to always believe.

Yes the killing was unique because a Western raised non-Muslim would probably not be killed by a parent over a hijab but he/she might have been killed or attacked over dating someone from what was perceived as the wrong ethnicity or race, over wearing something that the parent considered improper or even not wanting to follow the parents religious beliefs. It has happened before, it will happen again. Its the same thing just no hijab involved.

The problem is that our society likes to categorize incidents involving minorities. One drug dealer of black or Caribbean descent becomes all black men sell weed and carry guns and are in general dangerous. One Muslim father who went way too far in disciplining his child becomes look at these Islamic folk. See how they behave and why cant they just assimilate to the dominant culture. Its a reinforcement of the fear of the unknown and the different. Different means scary in these parts and these stories reinforce this.

Somehow the positives never get distributed that evenly do they?

To be honest when I first heard the story my thoughts were look how teenage rebellion can go wrong. Look how she play she disobeying the old man and the man get ig'rant and kill she just so.

Teenagers can get on your last damn nerve regardless of their culture and some parents do see red when they think that their child is disobeying some fundamental tenet of their law. As a West Indian I've heard plenty of stories of parents who would throw at or lash their kids with whatever was handy including shoes, clothes irons etc if the kid disobeyed them or as we would say in Barbados "feel dat duh big" or "get too big for he/she boots".

I'm not saying that's right I'm just saying that is/was how it was. I've head similar stories from other cultures.

The facts are parents need to discipline kids. They don't need to throw stuff at them or choke them to death or indeed get violent to do it but they need to exert strong discipline. Everyone does this differently and sometimes stuff gets out of hand as it apparently did with Asqa and her dad. Don't get me wrong its a dreadful story and her father deserves full punishment because parents should protect their children not kill them.

But its a story that's not unique to any culture or religion as some media outlets would have you believe. No need for cultural or religious labels this is simply a tragedy.

Rest in Peace Aqsa. What a sad way to go.


Melody said...

Ah saw de girl's friends on de news sayin' how all she wanted was her right to mek her own decisions -- apparently those interviewees don't know de difference between rights & privileges. De crux of it for de media is prob'ly whether or not this was some kinda honour killin' against de perceived negatives of western mores (i.e. was it deliberate, an' did he decide that "better dead than a ho, or a dead ho). If so, then Britney's lil sista like she out to prove him right...

GC said...

I don't even know what to say.
When I was a teenager, I didn't really make my own decisions. One time I was wearing nail hardener--no color, and my mother made me take it off. Now that I am grown, I wear what I like but if she did not think it was appropriate for me back then--well, I had no choice.

This father got out of control. He is a murderer. But teenagers can't be thinking they get to make decisions about their lives. As long as what their parents are asking them to do is not against the law, they better comply.

One cannot make one's own decisions if one is living under someone else's roof and eating their food and depending on them for school fee.

Sweetbread said...

I'm very sensitive to the media's portrayal of ethnic or religious minorities, being a member of one myself. But you have to admit, this type of thing is far more likely to happen in Islamic influenced cultures. I can count on one hand the number of times this extreme reaction has happened to a non-muslim woman, but they're a whole heap of times it happens in the muslim world. I'm not saying that Islam promotes this behaviour, it doesn't. However, the cultures in many Muslim countries do promote a view that women are second-class citizens and are the property of their husbands and fathers and that the men in the family are allowed to take whatever steps are necessary to stop the woman from bringing shame on the family. It's not as simple as- you're in my house, you do as I say. From all reports, she had left the house on numerous occasions only to be promised that things would improve.

She was a 16 year old girl, old enough to consent to sex. If she's old enough to do that, she's old enough to decide she doesn't want to wear a scarf on her head or follow her parents' religion. It's a tragedy that some men still feel they own their children and their women.

May she rest in the peace she did not know during her lfie.

Crankyputz said...

Good post....

I don't think her death had anything to do with Islam, but a lot more to do with a father who just didn't know how to handle his daughter and went a little crazy....

My advice when dealing with teenagers, stay rational....this too shall pass, if anything walk away and punish later......

You'll be needing the advice once junior grows up

Abeni said...

Just sad all around.

Bygbaby said...

wow, that is intense & extreme to me but I am a "westerner". I wonder how this would have played out in their country of origin?

Media no matter where seem to pick up on the factors that have nothing to do with anything just to shift focus for their own agenda.


Anonymous said...

I never thought of it from that view (child abuse). Either way, it's so sad.

Lola Gets said...

I see this incident not so much as a result of the religion, but more as a result of the culture of the Middle East. In many communities in the Middle East (which of course carries over when folks immigrate) men derive their sense of identity through their families. So, if a member of their family is thwarting their authority or behaving in some other unacceptable manner, the men must stop them to save face. It is this same phemenon that is behind those family "murder/ suicides" (also called double or triple suicides) cases.

So its not the religion that was the cause, it was the culture. Plus, technically, each Muslim woman has the right to decide if she wants to veil or not. Thats what it says in the Quran. Unfortunately, some cultures dont recognize that.


Honest said...

It's a hard one. Kids will rebel and it's their parents job to discipline them. However, deciding to kill your child because they're not to comply is out of control no matter what. The media is all over this because you hear of women in the middle east being murdered at the hands of their family for doing things we would consider normal in the US or Canada so when it hits closer to home folks are all up in arms.

Mad Bull said...

I never heard about this at all! Guess I need to watch TV more.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Bro' Man!

Stunner said...

Whatever the reason, it is just awful! It's just very sad when someone can kill their own offspring!