Saturday, December 15, 2007

The loss of a daughter

In my last post about "The Handmaid's Tale, I wrote:

"Whenever I hear the stories of female babies being aborted, murdered or abandoned, or girls in third-world countries being denied food and education, married off and bearing children while still children themselves, and killed in the name of "family honour" for not showing sufficient deference to male authority -- all simply because they are girls -- I feel incredibly fortunate and grateful to the Powers That Be that, as a woman, I was born & grew up Canadian in the latter part of the 20th century."
I wrote those words before I heard the story, earlier this week, of the 16-year-old Muslim girl from Mississauga who was murdered -- strangled -- by her own father. Friends say she recently moved out of the family home after fighting with her strict parents over her desire to abandon wearing the hijab, wear fashionable clothes & fit in with the other kids at school.

Media commentators are arguing over whether this is about radical Islam, the barbaric practice of so-called "honour killings," the clash of old world vs new world values/"immigrant shock," patriarchy, domestic violence, teenage rebellion against parents, or some lethal combination thereof.

Certainly, most parents, regardless of religion or country of origin, battle at least occasionally with their teenagers, whether the subject is drugs, boys, school grades, hairstyle, body piercings, music, dress... My own mother cheerfully admits that my sister & I were both so obnoxious between the ages of about 14 and 18 that she would have happily disowned us. Dh is Italian, and his female cousins -- whose parents came to Canada during the 1950s & 60s -- have told me about how protective their parents were of them, growing up -- particularly as compared to their brothers & male cousins, who were allowed much more freedom to come & go as they pleased. They were sent to Catholic schools where they had to wear uniforms and makeup was forbidden, and they were not allowed to take part in extracurricular activities, or go to friends' houses after schools or for sleepovers. One cousin recalled how she sneaked out to go skating with her friends, and when her mother found out, she hacked the skates into pieces and threw them in the garbage.

But most parents, no matter how frustrated they are, don't murder their children.

We won't know all the details until the case is heard in court. All I could think was that I lost a daughter before I ever really had her. This man HAD a daughter -- a beautiful, spirited young girl, from the looks of her photos -- and (intentionally or accidentally) he threw her life away. As if she was a piece of garbage that was no longer of value or useful to him.

And that makes me mad.

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