If I didn’t know better, I’d say it sounded like the Harper Government™ is on some kind of a feminist roll. Yesterday, Bill C-36, which bans the buying of sexual services, passed the Senate. And today, there’s this:
Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander introduced legislation Wednesday afternoon to ban people in polygamous and early and forced marriages from immigrating to Canada.
Alexander said the practices, including female genital mutilation and honour-based violence, are “incompatible with Canadian values.”
Alexander and Minister of Labour and Minister Responsible for the Status of Women Dr. Kellie Leitch announced the federal government bill at a news conference Wednesday morning at Rexdale Women’s Centre.
The 2013 Throne Speech promised action to stop early and forced marriages, polygamy, female genital mutilation and so-called honour-based killings.
All are issues of concern to the Harper government in light of the multiple murders in 2009 of female members of Montreal’s Shafia family, Alexander said. An Afghan-Canadian man, his second wife and their son, were convicted of first-degree murder in the deaths of his three teenaged daughters and his first wife — killed because he felt the girls’ dating and dress brought dishonour to his family.
No word in there as to whether they plan on stopping the US-based cult of fundie-Mormon polygamists who’ve taken up residence in BC, and barring any members of that sect from crisscrossing our border. Those most certainly qualify as immigrants, and practitioners of early and forced polygamous marriages, if not genital mutilation. I have a sneaking suspicion that our gummint simply doesn’t want to know that they exist, and focus instead on all those sinister-looking (to them, anyway) brown and black people from overseas.
I did say “if I didn’t know better”, eh? This is what “knowing better” entails:
Knowing that there’s something deeply, grossly wrong about singling out members of one particular religion for specific anti-immigrant sanctions. As it is, our immigration system has already become dangerously restrictive, and is shutting refugees out. And yes, that adversely affects those who are refugees from institutional sexism in their countries of origin: refugees facing genital mutilation, forced and early marriages, and polygamy!
Knowing that “honor killing” is not a Muslim thing, it’s a cross-cultural thing. Only, when non-Muslims (usually white, Christian Canadians) do it, it’s simply classified as plain old homicide, or even “domestic violence”. Our statistics are rife with husbands killing estranged wives, men killing mistresses who no longer want to be “kept”, and jilted boyfriends stalking and murdering their ex-girlfriends, but none dare call THAT “honor crime”, even when it is easily classifiable as an affront to some man’s pride. Talk about a whitewash!
Knowing that polygamy is by no means limited to Muslims, either.
Knowing that everything Those People have done, “our” people have also done, one way or another, at one time in history or another. Remember medieval tortures and witch persecutions? They involved all kinds of persecutions of outcast women. White Christian people did those things. And they did them relatively recently right here in the Americas, too.
But-but-but, we say, we’re past barbarism nowadays. And just look how bold and saintly we are, trying to yoink Those People out of the Dark Ages as well! Yeah, let’s just forget that while Christian Europe was in its Dark Ages, burning “witches” and cats over the plague (and thus, unintentionally, making matters worse by eliminating trained herbalists and rat-killers), the Muslim world was making great advances in the enlightened arts of science, medicine and mathematics, to say nothing of arts and culture. No, Those People need our rescuing, and they need it NOW!
Never mind, either, that the overwhelming majority of Muslims are not polygamous, and that the Koran is very specific about the circumstances under which such marriages can occur. If a man is capable of treating them all equally, he may have up to (but no more than) four wives. If not, he must content himself with just one. Most can’t afford more than one. Most also can’t divide their time, affection and worldly goods between more than one. The vast majority of Muslims are thus de facto monogamists. And, adding that to the fact that most have already voluntarily adapted to the secular laws of the lands where they find themselves, it means that most Canadian Muslims…are also de facto monogamists! Exactly how many people are we talking about “protecting” by forcing them to stay out of our country, anyway? And why aren’t we taking in Muslimas who are trying to escape polygamy, if we’re so concerned about this “barbaric practice”?
Never mind, also, that the Shafia case was in fact egregious from the viewpoint even of Muslim polygamy, since the patriarch of that family made a grotesque point of NOT treating his two wives equally. He maltreated the first, who was infertile, and favored the second, who was younger, and who gave him all his seven children — three of whom he killed. He could have divorced his first wife, freeing her to pursue a better marriage with someone else, but he did not; instead, he kept her on as an unpaid domestic. There is no “honor” in that, and Muslim Canadians themselves have said as much.
And never mind, above all, that female genital mutilation isn’t a Muslim thing, but a tribal thing, and mainly African. Which means that non-Muslim Africans also sometimes do it. Never mind, either, that white men sometimes also mutilate the genitals of women whom they perceive as having pissed on their masculine “honor”. No, let’s just fixate on the Muslims and accuse them, and only them, of barbarism!
No, there is nothing feminist about this latest Harpocratic legal project. It doesn’t even pass the most basic of sniff tests. Unfortunately, that probably won’t stop it from passing the House of Commons…and the Senate. And it probably won’t make it unpopular with the gullible morons who voted for those goons, either.