Peer Mentoring Workshops

Under the project “Elimination of Harmful Cultural Practices”, workshops have been designed for young girls and women. These workshops will empower women and girls by educating and training them on the issue of harmful cultural practices.

Specifically the workshops aim to help them to:

  • Understand fundamental human rights
  • Challenge beliefs and attitudes that contribute to women participating in violence against women and girls
  • Proactively assess risks/threats to their well-being or the well-being of other girls/women they know, and recognize behaviours that male family/community members may react to as “dishonouring”
  • Seek assistance from each other or local resources
  • Provide assistance to other females in situations where there is potential for violence
  • Develop skills in safety and exit planning
  • Support community policing efforts and justice system intervention for honour-based violence

Workshops for girls and women educate on human rights and reconcile them with religious rights and cultural rights. Values Education and Rights-based religious education are critically important in supporting the worth and value of girls and women and in protecting them against violence. This is because mistreatment of women and internalization of a “victim” mentality as a woman often stems from misinterpretations of religious/cultural teachings or mixed messages girls and women receive from social behaviours of their community versus actual religious or historical traditions. The human rights education is emphasized to educate girls and young women about fundamental human rights and then link their rights as women to their religious and cultural contexts and value systems. The activity also aims to help correct any misunderstandings.

Existing reports on honour-based violence and best practice recommendations suggest that it is critical for girls and young women to recognize what types of behaviours family members or community members may find to be dishonouring, as a prerequisite to being able to detect when they may be at risk for honour-based violence and what they should do in these situations. The workshop aims to raise girls’ consciousness about the importance of their behaviour to family honour and the wide range in behaviours that could possibly be perceived by family members or community members as shaming the family. For women the aim is to raise women’s consciousness about problem situations that can develop in families and compromise their safety, and about what they can do to help themselves or others.

In recent Canadian and international cases of honour-based violence, mothers have been found to either participate in violence directed towards their daughters or not take any steps to protect their daughters from harm. Family situations where mothers have different views than fathers on how to respond to their daughter’s behaviour may contribute to marital and family conflicts. Mothers may end up in a double-bind situation where they do not know how to be a good mother and take care of their daughter without being a bad wife and disobeying or disrespecting their husband. The workshops will help mother to develop effective family problem-solving skills for peacefully resolving these situations.

In the recent ICWA conference on Elimination of Harmful Cultural Practices, Police Officers from across Canada on a panel presentation indicated that many immigrant women and girls they have worked with directly in honour crime cases had misconceptions about the Police that led them to refrain from contacting Police until extreme crises developed. The workshops aim to elicit program participants’ understandings of the Canadian and local Police System and address any emerging misconceptions. It also aims to promote trust-building in Police and cooperation with law enforcement.