On Sept. 20, 2016, police and prosecutors from across Canada were invited to watch a webinar on the subject of honour-based violence. The webinar, "Training on underage and forced marriages, 'honour' based violence and female genital mutilation/cutting for law enforcement and prosecutors," aimed to illuminate the difficult and under-reported world of honour-based violence.
Three speakers were featured — Justice Department counsel Hoori Hamboyan, S/Sgt. Isobel Granger of the Ottawa Police Service and Crown prosecutor Meaghan Cunningham. They aimed to weigh in on issues specific to honour-based violence and give officers a better idea of how to approach these kinds of cases.
"One of our objectives is to undo some of the stereotypes about honour-based violence and give a sense of what the situation might actually look like," says Hamboyan. "It could go from something that doesn't look very serious to lethal very quickly. We focus a lot on the cultural competency for police officers to be able to work with minority communities, so there there's less judgement, less stereotyping and more openness so people can come forward and seek help."
Hamboyan notes that honour-based violence can present unique challenges to those investigating and prosecuting. These cases often involve multiple perpetrators and authority figures from outside the family or even country, as well as cultural values that may be unfamiliar to the officers investigating.
The webinar discussed the entire spectrum of honour-based violence and cruelty — from forced marriage to female genital mutilation. Officers and prosecutors from across the country were invited to tune in to the two-hour session, which was presented in English with a simultaneous French translation.