Film sparks movement to stop “honour violence”

Wendy Elliott
Published on March 9, 2014

By Wendy Elliott

A powerful new documentary film will be shown at Acadia University in connection with International Women’s Day. It is being screened worldwide this year, says student organizer Kira McLean.

Honor Diaries is the first film to break the silence on “honour violence” against women and girls, she said, as a courageous group of nine women’s rights activists with connections to Muslim-majority societies come together to speak out against the violence women face in Muslim-majority communities.

In Wolfville, there will be two screenings on March 16 and 17 in the Irving Centre auditorium. The second event will be followed by a panel discussion.

Honor Diaries features an all-star cast of female human rights activists, McLean said, including New York Times bestselling author Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

“In male-dominated cultures, like Saudi Arabia, women and girls are treated like property, forced into marriage, and suffer female genital mutilation,” said Ali. “In Honor Diaries, I am proud to join these courageous women to speak the truth; that culture is no excuse for abuse.”

Paula Kweskin, Honor Diaries producer and writer and international human rights lawyer, said the film is the first to break the silence on “honour violence” against women and girls.

“More than a movie, Honor Diaries is a movement to save women and girls around the world, and here in North America, from human rights abuses,” she said.

This issue, McLean said, is something she cares a lot about.

“I feel that with increasing polarization and politicization of religious communities in Western countries it’s an issue we need to start discussing.”

She said she would hate to see North America face the same terrifying scenarios that the UK and other European countries are dealing with in regard to the religious minorities in those countries.

“I’m hoping this film will at least provide some food for thought and start a discussion about how much violence and oppression we’re prepared to sanction in the name of tolerance and political correctness,” she added. 

The screenings will both begin at 7 p.m. The panel on March 17 includes: Farida Chishti, president of PEI chapter of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women; Dr. Najam Chishti, president of the Muslim Society of PEI; Dr. Jamie Whidden, who teaches modern Middle Eastern Political History at Acadia; and Dr. Donna Seamone, another Acadia professor of comparative religion.