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Monday, 21 December 2009

Tiptoeing around horror

Why do we tiptoe around “cultural” matters as if we were treading on eggshells?

It’s not often I agree with the Daily Mail, but an article by Liz Jones caught my eye, and it concerns just such attitudes, and how authorities in the UK care more for the sensitivities of racial, cultural and religious groups than about the victims of their closed-mindedness.

She cites the murder (saying “I refuse to dignify the crime with the word ‘honour’ ”) of Tulay Gorem by her father, because she was dating the “wrong” boy.

She talks of how the girl’s mother was too afraid to speak out.

The policing of crimes that are “alien” to our culture (there is also the nasty practice of female genital mutilation) needs to be far tougher, if the training video shown to officers who deal with such matters is anything to go by.

I wish, when I was stopped for speeding, that I had been treated with such care for my feelings.

Tulay Goren repeatedly told police in the days before her death that she was being threatened. When she refused to go home, police divulged her whereabouts to her family and allowed them to persuade her to return to them. Later, police travelled to Kurdistan on a lovely jaunt to learn about local “honour codes” as they built their case, a luxury that was far too little, too late.

Social workers, too, are terrified of upsetting people who are clearly monsters, because of their race and religion. This was obviously the case in the murder of Victoria Climbié when so-called professionals failed to interfere, dazzled by respect for something they mistook as “culture” (there’s an overused word if ever there was one) when in fact it was just plain old “cruelty”.

She adds later, “Far too often we are afraid to criticise, to police, to lay blame because we fear we will be branded racist [. . .] Surely there are times when race, nationality and religion must take second place to decency, to what is right. Let’s stop this molly-coddling of ‘culture’. Now.”

Hear, hear!

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