(This column originally appeared in the Toronto Sun)
Life in Canada is good, especially for women.
Canada routinely ranks at or near the top position when it comes to the best places in the world to be a woman.
Girls and women have endless opportunities in Canada, and have long held the same legal rights and protections as men.
Canadian women are lucky, and that privilege should extend to all women – including newcomers.
But a few recent news stories highlight the fact that cultural violence is being imported into Canada alongside immigration.
Investigations by Global News and the Toronto Star have helped to shine a light on the growing problem of female genital mutilation (FGM) on young Canadian girls.
According to federal documents, the government is aware that Canadian girls are being taken abroad to be subjected to this painful practice that cuts out part of their vagina.
There's even have a term for this: “Vacation cutting.”
And it’s not the only concern Canadian officials have when it comes to FGM in Canada.
An internal report from the Canadian Border Services Agency reveals border officers have been put on alert to watch out for practitioners of FGM entering Canada.
Border agents have been given photos of “cutting tools, belts and special herbs” carried by practitioners, so our officials can be on the lookout and stop them from importing this barbaric practice into Canada.
The report also says “razor blades, shards of glass, strips for binding legs as well as ash, oil and herbal mixtures” are carried and used for FGM.
The United Nations estimates this barbaric procedure is practiced today in 30 countries and has been carried out on some 200 million girls worldwide.
A second disturbing story in the news this week revealed an Ontario appeal court overturned a lower court decision that had given an Iranian immigrant a lenient judgment for beating his wife and children.
The original ruling gave the man an 18-month sentence for hitting his wife, pulling her hair and forcefully having sex with her.
The man also kicked and punched his two sons, and once locked them outside on a snowy winter day, while they were wearing just shorts and T-shirts.
He was convicted of assault and sexual assault, but the judge at his original trial gave him a lighter sentence because of “a significant cultural gap” between attitudes and accepted behaviour in Canada and in Iran.
Thankfully, a rare dose of common sense prevailed in a higher court.
The case went to the Ontario Court of Appeal, and the short sentence was determined to be “manifestly unfit” for the crimes this man committed.
A tougher, four-year sentence was then handed down to the wife-beater from Iran.
The court emphasized that “cultural differences do not excuse or mitigate criminal conducts,” and, importantly, that “all women in Canada are entitled to the same level of protection from abusers.”
This language mirrors that which once appeared in Canada’s citizenship guide given to all newcomers.
The guide read: “Canada’s openness and generosity do not extend to barbaric cultural practices that tolerate spousal abuse, ‘honour killings,’ female genital mutilation, forced marriage or other gender-based violence.”
According to news reports, the Trudeau government is now removing this warning from the...(READ MORE)