The conventional view of “honour killing”, underscored by the murder of Shafilea Ahmed - a Warrington schoolgirl who had become “too Westernised”, and refused to participate in a forced marriage in Pakistan - is that it is about two clashing cultures. And ours, dominated by post-Enlightenment notions of individual freedom and human rights, is correct; while theirs draws on a long-outmoded primitive tribalism that is self-evidently wrong. The only reason why the police have not stamped down more ruthlessly is a fear of cultural insensitivity.
There are certainly two poles of thought here, and we are torn between them. On the one hand, there has been, since the 1960s, a resistance to what was then called cultural imperialism. It overturned the old assumption that assimilation was the best policy. It saw value in diversity, and was wary of racist assumptions about the superiority of one culture over another. The danger of such multiculturalism was clear in the lack of consistent liaison between school, social services, housing, and police over the years when Shafilea was a victim of violence at the hands of her parents.
The other pole is that there are, despite our public authorities’ political correctness, absolute values, which even in our relativist world have to be upheld: not being allowed to kill your children is one of them.
I’m not sure if I agree with this statement: “And ours, dominated by post-Enlightenment notions of individual freedom and human rights, is correct; while theirs draws on a long-outmoded primitive tribalism that is self-evidently wrong.”
Deeming all practices of cultural arranged marriage as inherently “wrong” is problematic, and paints all of these communities with the same negative brush while declaring the Western norm as “right” just comes off as arrogant and supremacist.
However, the bolded part is absolutely true, and such practices need to be acknowledged and put to an end however possible. Practicing the tradition of arranged marriage is not inherently wrong, but murdering a woman for refusing that marriage is absolutely wrong.