The Quebec government is not protecting victims of honour violence and intimidation sufficiently from grave injury and even death. Reforms are urgently needed, and the text of this petition explains which reforms should be explored. Click on the Petition tab for the full text.
Stop abandoning honour violence victims to their families!
Three teenage sisters may have died in the Rideau Canal because Quebec's youth protection and educational systems did not treat them with the necessary seriousness and urgency.
No verdict has been handed down in the Shafia murder trial, and the accused are innocent until proven guilty. [Update: The accused have been convicted of murder but have appealed.] In any case, the statement of facts agreed to by the prosecution and defence has caused an uproar about the authorities' deficient response to the allegations and incidents in the months preceding the deaths.
Despite evidence of suicide attempts, family violence, intimidation, and fear of reprisals, the system put in place by the Quebec government seems to have failed the Shafia sisters and looked the other way.
The younger girls asked to be removed from their home, and the older girl ran away to a shelter.
But the system seems to have worked more for the abusers than the victims. Complaints were passed along to the family, despite the girls' warnings. One girl was even made to give details in the parents' presence. It's no wonder she recanted. But it's unforgivable that her case was closed because of that.
It should not be surprising if families that practice honour-based abuse react to outside "intrusions" with escalating violence. A system based on the idea that honour violence can be resolved within the family is based on a dangerous illusion, and cries out for change.
WE, THE UNDERSIGNED, demand the Quebec government reform the system so that youth protection, schools and the police recognize the special nature of honour-based violence and work together to ensure victims are promptly brought to safety.
Specifically, we ask that the following reforms be considered:
- Youth protection employees should develop a protocol for dealing with honour violence within families.
- Authorities should not be permitted to discuss complaints with parents where disclosure could further endanger the victim.
- Quicker action should be taken to place victims in foster homes or privately-funded safe houses.
- Parents should sometimes be prevented from knowing where their children have been placed.
- A fast-track judicial emancipation process (deprivation of parental authority) should be available to teenagers who want to and are capable of living on their own or with a companion.
- The police should be involved earlier in honour violence investigations, and should take accusations very seriously, and not assume that threats are made idly.
- There should be interprovincial agreements to allow victims to be placed in another province if they so wish, in the interests of their safety and development.