Honor killings are a new type of murder now being introduced to Europe and North America. Recently the case of the Afghan family in Montreal, known to the world as the Shafia trial made headlines. Three girls and a first wife, Rona Amir, were killed when their car was rear-ended and plunged into the Kingston Canal. Their 21-year-old brother was in the second car, got out, threw a rope into the water and called his sister’s names. When he didn’t get a response, he just got into his car and drove away.
As the world wonders how a brother could do this without crying for help they understand from the point of view of a murderer. According to Huffiington Post, the judge referred to this case as “cold-blooded, shameful murders” resulting from a “twisted concept of honor.”
Why were the remaining family members; Mohammad Shafia, the father, Tooba Yahya, the mother of the girls and second wife of Mohammad, and Hamed Shafia the son, suspected of honor killings?
The reason is there were countless accounts of the girls complaining to the school about their father and brother beating them. The father expected girls to wear a hijab and dress appropriately. The girls wanted to dress like Canadian girls and fit in.
The eldest daughter had a Pakistani boyfriend and the father wanted her to marry an Afghani man. She even spoke out that she would be killed if her father found out.
Batshaw Youth and family services investigated, but when the social worker went to the house the father was there and of course the girls downplayed everything. They were afraid of their father.
According to interviews with Batshaw, the agency has now teamed up with the other social services to share information. Madeline Berard said on TV that honor killings are not common in Canada and now they will have to find better ways to assist these families.
Activists are coming forward for and against the Shafia family. Some activists are saying that new immigrants should be educated about the new culture they are coming into. Others are saying they are afraid Muslims in general or the Afghan community in particular, will be victimized because of the doings of this one family.
Canada has sentenced the three family members to 25 years in prison without parole. The son will appeal. His lawyer hopes the other two family members will do the same.
Not so long ago The US and Canada treated honor killings as domestic violence but according to The Middle East Quarterly, honor killing is nothing like domestic abuse.
Activists in the West often deny honor killings while in the East it is an ongoing social debate.
Honor killings occur because some male family members get the idea that the women in the family have disgraced the family in some way. Even rumors are accepted as a reason for the honor killing. The crime is always against women and usually has to do with proper dressing or being westernized. Unlike domestic violence, it is often carefully planned and sanctioned if not aided by the extended family.
There is a lot of misunderstanding about the issue of honor killings and even Canadians are befuddled. CtV news did a poll on Montreal streets, and found that people, though naturally against honor killings made comments such as “so sad killed for the way they were dressed,” and therefore not cognizant of the so called family shame.
The neighbors of the Shafia family said they are now very afraid of the remaining family and are glad they will not be living around them anymore.
Now that honor killings have infiltrated North America it is time to educate the immigrants and educate North Americans in hope of findings solutions that will stop these senseless killings once and for all.
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