A disobedient woman, who allegedly brings shame to her family, especially when it concerns her sexual behaviour, has to be eliminated. That is what the multicultural West is discovering to its horror as the body count continues to mount of young women, primarily from Muslim families, who run afoul of this foreign and twisted sense of restoring family “honor.” Rather than “honor,” however, Western societies now recognize this alien way of thinking for what it really is: a revolting concept, behind which the most brutal, anti-women crimes are being committed.
The latest North American case involving this “honor” masquerade ended last Sunday in the eastern Ontario city of Kingston where a jury returned a guilty verdict after only 15 hours of deliberation for the mass honor slayings of Rona Amir Mohammed, 50, Zainab Shafia, 19, and her two sisters, Sahar, 17, and Geeti, 13. The four females were found dead, apparently by drowning, in a vehicle submerged in a canal just outside of Kingston on June 30, 2009.
“This verdict sends a very clear message about our Canadian values and the core principles in a free and democratic society that all Canadians enjoy, and even visitors to Canada enjoy,” prosecutor Gerard Laarhuis said after the trial.
Their killers were, as in most honor murders, close family members: father Mohammed Shafia, 58, mother Tooba Mohammed Yahya, 42, and brother Hamed, 21. Rona Amir Mohammed was Mohammed Shafia’s unwanted first wife. She was in Canada on a visitor’s visa, since polygamy is prohibited in that country. The Shafia family, originally from Afghanistan, had been in Canada for two years by the time of the murders.
Unlike some honor killers, however, who openly and happily admit their crime to the world, so as to leave no doubt their “honor” has been restored, the Shafias continued after the verdict to profess their innocence.
“Sir, I did not drown my sisters anywhere,” Hamed protested in the courtroom.
But the facts of the case are this. Zainab, Sahar and Geeti were three girls who lived in an emotionally and physically abusive home, dominated by a strict father who adhered to the archaic, patriarchal customs of his land of origin. The girls wanted to enjoy the freedoms Canadian girls have, which included determining their own lives. This meant, among other things, having boyfriends, choosing the clothes they wore and hanging out with friends after school.
In the Afghan tribal and clan culture the Shafia parents come from, however, such freedoms are strictly forbidden to females, since women are regarded as possessions of male family members. The men are obligated to ensure their daughters and sisters are virgins when married. This is not only a question of family honor but also a financial one. A non-virgin brings in no bride money on the marriage market. She is valueless. Moreover, a girl who has had pre-marital sex is almost always killed by her male relatives, who believe only blood can wash away this supposed shame and restore the family’s honor. Since it is such a societal obsession, virginity is therefore, literally, a major and vital, life-or-death factor in a girl’s life.
Influenced by the freedom of their Canadian environment, the Shafia girls rebelled against their stifling home situation. Zainab once ran away to a women’s shelter. The father, a Canadian newspaper reported, was “desperate” to get her back, since her absence inflamed his greatest fear: She may be having sex. (European social workers say even just one night away from home is enough for a family to pass a death sentence on the offending female member.) Hamed also caught Sahar sneaking a boyfriend into the house when their parents were away in Dubai, while 13-year-old Geeti, apparently the most strong-willed of the three, was asking teachers and social workers to put her in a foster home. The fact Zainab and Sahar had boyfriends would also have condemned them as “whores” in their family’s eyes.
Photos on Zainab’s and Zahar’s cellphones also helped seal the girls’ fate. They showed the girls with boyfriends and by themselves but scantily clad. Some photos were found in Hamed’s briefcase, and the prosecution believed he showed them to his father. These had a devastating effect on Mohammed Shafia. On a police wiretap only weeks after his daughters’ deaths, he raged to his wife:
What excess had we committed, that they …undressed themselves in front of boys? God curse their graduation! Curse of God on both of them! God’s curse on them for generations! May the devil shit on their graves! Is that what a daughter should be? Would (a daughter) be such a whore?
The reason Rona Amir Mohammed was killed is more obscure. She was barren, which caused Mohammed Shafia to take a second wife, who treated the first wife cruelly. Rona Mohammed was also very close to the dead girls, whom she helped raised, and may have been seen as a bad influence, or she may simply have been regarded as superfluous. Rona Mohammed had, however, expressed fears for her safety to her own relatives.
“She was afraid,” her brother later said. “She had threats that if she went to the police, we will kill you.”
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