Füsun A.



Montréal, CANADA
January 12
Freelance Writer - jack of all genres;master of none.
warm and genuine
I divorced my full time career of teaching after 25 years, because meanwhile I fell in love with freelance writing. Ever since, I decided to legitimize my ten-year fling which started in the new millennium. Author of: "WILL OF MY OWN - A Memoir" Available at all major book outlets. For a preview please visit: http://www.dictionmatters.com/


Editor’s Pick
JANUARY 29, 2012 10:12PM

Honour was the Theme in Mass Murder

Rate: 89 Flag

Mohammad and Tooba

"It is difficult to conceive of a more despicable, more heinous crime,” Judge Robert Maranger stated as he listened to the jury's verdict, Guilty of premeditated murder, rendered on three members of an Afghanistan-born Montreal family on Sunday, January 29, 2012.

Ever since four bodies were discovered floating inside a submerged Nissan Sentra on June 28, 2009 in the muddy waters of Kingston Mills Lock, Kingston, Ontario, the Shafiah case has been attracting as much attention as any, among the modern detective-murder news. In the days following the retrieval of the bodies of Zainab (19), Sahar (17), Geeti(13) and a 52 year old woman Rona Amar Mohammad, Canadians poured out much sympathy towards the unfortunate family who emigrated from Afghanistan to make a better life for themselves.

Today, almost two-and-a-half years after the trial which started on October 11, 2009, the cause of their death by drowning is established, but the how or the exact when of it has never been determined. The prosecution can only speculate.

Along the trial's path, very disturbing facts emerged. Words such as “honour killing”, “polygamous marriage”, “ family honour”, “man's need to control woman's power” started to float. The story, pieced together through forensics and witnesses, as well as the testimony of two of the alleged convicts, convinced the jury that this was no more than a cold-blooded, premeditated, mass murder of four innocent women whose only wishes were to integrate into a society and live like human beings.

The alleged murderers were the father, Mohammad Shafia(58), his second wife Tooba Mohammad Yahya(42), whom he took because the first one, Rona Amar, could bear him no children, and Hamed, their eldest son. Although the sisters were not often seen wearing headscarves by their neighbours, they complained of abuse at home to their teachers and to the police. They wanted to be more like their Canadian peers, but they feared the heavy hand of their brother, Hamed. (This is an authoritative behaviour I have seen – first hand – assumed unquestionably by the eldest male in line, in strict Islamic families, and when I sense it, my internal alarm system warns me to stay away from such people.)

I don't often follow murder trials no matter how big the headlines they make. Somehow, I did this one. My curiosity was more to learn about the state of an Islam that is unfamiliar and fearful to me. I hoped I could perhaps get a glimpse into the mind of a creature who remained cool and composed throughout the entire case and the reading of the verdict that will not let him see a day in sunlight again. Nor his accomplices.

I learned that there was a kind of liberalism that prevailed in the Shafiah house, but also there was much darkness and chaos. The restrictions were apparently stifling, the girls longed for more freedom. At one point, Zainab ran away to a women’s shelter. Sahar tried to kill herself after an argument with Tooba, and the youngest begged a detective to place her in foster care. The eldest daughters also had secret boyfriends. Zainab got married to hers, though it was annulled after just one day. Rona, the first wife who lived with the family and introduced as an “aunt” meanwhile, apparently asked for divorce at one point.

The Shafia case has shed a strong light on the clashing disparity between the lives the young victims were trying to lead in Canada, and the one which the defendants would allow them.

Shahrzad Mojab , a professor at the University of Toronto (and an expert in honour killings) who co-edited a book called Violence in the Name of Honour was The Crown’s last witness in making its case. According to her, [honour killings] don’t have direct connection with religion at all and such killings are not restricted to Islam, though the United Nations report suggests it’s more prevalent in these societies. “It is not unique to any particular religion. We see it among Hindus. We see it among Jews and Christians in the (Middle East) region. It is also not limited to the Middle East or the Arab world.”

If a man cannot control his own household, which is represented by the behaviour of the female members of the family, he cannot be trusted for any other public matters, including financial relationships,” Dr Mojab explained and went on that feeding that violence is the belief in the control of the female members of the family in a patriarchal society.

According to experts, honour killings are on the rise in the world. They occur most often in the Middle East, North Africa and parts of South Asia. As many as 5,000 girls and women are murdered every year in these types of killings, (2000 United Nations Population Fund report). In 1999, at least 1,000 women were killed in Pakistan alone.

At the core of these cases are often the issues of virginity and sexual chastity, although in many instances the women who are killed have been raped by a member of her own extended family. In some places, the perpetrators of the honour killing are excused or given light sentences because the family’s “dishonour” is taken into account.

A woman’s body is considered to be the repository of family honour,” Dr Mojab said, refrerring to an Arab adage, “A man’s honour lies between the legs of a woman.” For some, an honour killing may even be seen as an act of mercy, she continued. “It is part of the continuum of love and care. Living as a dishonoured member of the family — the suffering of that is greater than death.”

So if a woman’s reputation is perceived to be tainted, through premarital sex or rape, taking a boyfriend, asking for divorce, even exerting her independence, “Cleansing one’s honour of shame is typically handled by the shedding of blood,” Mojab said.

It’s really about men’s need to control women’s sexuality and freedom.”

And that is exactly what the jury decided Hamed and Mohammad Shafiah did, despite their numerous denials otherwise. I still fail to grasp how Tooba Yahya could have gone along with them.

Rob Tripp, an award-winning crime reporter for CBC, announced in an interview that he is working on a book depicting the compelling story of this mass murder which will delve into much of the untold story of the victims who died only because they wanted to live a life like that of their peers: having friends, seeing movies, trying make up or speaking out their mind. The working title of his book is "Dead in the Water". It is picked up by Harper Collins Publishers of Canada, and is projected to be out in January 2013.  


The victims, four women, now rest in an Islamic cemetery in Laval, Québec 


Recommended Reading

The Politics of Theorizing "Islamic Feminism':Implications for International Feminist Movements


Shahrzad Mojab

Photos: Courtesy of Canadian Press, The Toronto Star, & Globe and Mail


Füsun Atalay ~ Copyright © Will of my Own - 2012

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I wonder if any of my American friends have been following this most heinous honor killing, mass murder in the recent history of Canada. I felt I had to do this to honor the women.
Fusun, I wasn't aware of this long running trial nor of the heinous nature of the murders. What a terrible tragedy that occurred and it's depressing to read in this day and age that honor killings are on the rise, not decline. Thank you for a comprehensive and well written account of this. It would be great if this never happened again, but that sounds like wishful thinking given the situations around the world.
I have followed this from the beginning and now they have all been found guilty. How does one get a car into one of the locks. Did not make sense and this was just so odd..
Now its awful.
There is no honour to this brutality. I have been following this story closely since it broke. Thank you for talking about it here.
This wasn't unknown in southern Europe until fairly recently. It isn't really an Islamic thing per se, as you say. It seems to be incredibly entrenched in "traditional" people. And I guess it's bound to increase, at least for a time, as young women have access to media and learn what life could be like for them. Perhaps access to the media on the part of young men, who will be the fathers soon, will alleviate it to some extent (tho god knows many many totally 'modern' western men feel a need to control 'their' women...).

Very sad.

Imagine killing your three children...

(But I was just reading something today about Thomas Jefferson, yes, THAT Thomas Jefferson, creator of the phrase "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness", who was a big-time slave-owner....among whose slaves were a number of HIS CHILDREN.)
Thank you for posting this; although it makes me sick to my stomach. Having spent more than a year mourning the death of the woman who was the best thing that ever happened to me, I find it incomprehensible that any woman's life could be taken in order to satisfy a deranged sense of honour.
The sick irony is that killing such as these bring on a lot of dishonor on the religion or culture behind it. Somehow it seems even worse getting the son involved as an active and presumably willing participant.
So senseless and bizarre. -R-
I'm aware that this is a very disturbing story, but the entire irony around "honor" killing is something I simply cannot grasp. I grew up in a Muslim family as many of my readers know. My family was strict, no boyfriends allowed, no make up until a certain age, etc. Yet there are universes between mine and this kind of a family that calls itself Muslim.
@Abrawang- It seems to be only natural in these families that the young males are trained to carry on the sick tradition.
@Myriad - Jefferson pursued happiness alright - only his own.
@Desi, Mary, Christine, John, Linda - Thank you all!
Thank you for honoring these women...how horrible.
This is one of the saddest, most venal of crimes and it is being imported all over the world. Not far from me in BC there was an honor killing in a Pakistani family. Such a tragedy.
No honour in any of this.
Fusun, they are honored by you here. Thank you on behalf of all women worldwide.
There were early reports in the U.S. and then nothing. I have just been hearing about it over the past few days, probably because it is at the end of the trial. This is so sad, and I am so sorry for those poor girls and that poor woman.

The only thing that could be worse would be if some fool whined that we Westerners just don't understand. No, we don't understand and that is why we call such people monsters.
Interesting, so if a woman of your family suffers a "fate worse than death" you make it better by giving her death instead. What compassion!

On Jefferson, he freed his children and his lover in his will, which makes it interesting, since it gives his lover a huge incentive for choosing him over a fellow slave (according to researchers, Hemings had some choice, like choosing to return to the US after living in France where she could have declared her freedom, or maybe it's just a statement about what life as a free black in 18th century France would have been).

It raises interesting questions about what free choice means in the context of a system like slavery which abolishes freedom.
I read about this a few hours ago when I got a CNN alert. Horrific stuff. It's just mind boggling the way women are treated around the globe. Another example of great citizen journalism. Rated.
Fusun~ Stunning. I mean, actually stunning. I am saddened to hear this, and all too familiar with similar stories. Thank you for your voice and your complete heart to show this. I wonder if the prison system will provide counselling for these two...?
I hadn't heard of this case Fusun, and I can't say I'm glad to be made aware of it now. It is nearly impossible for me to comprehend honor killings, no matter what the religion dictates. And after these things occur, I wonder how anyone can actually feel vindicated after killing the offspring they spent years raising.
thank you for honouring the women.
I have been following this one ever since the bodies were found in the lock in 2009, two hours from here. The details became more depressing, unfathomable and senseless as the trial went on, both in terms of the murders as well as the thoughts and actions of the three convicted. I'm glad justice was served here, but there really are never any winners in unimaginable situations like this.
Nothing honorable about such crimes and I agrre with Seer.
Those poor women. As Linda says, it's depressing to think honor killings are on the rise, not the decline. An unfortunately very effective way to make women fearful of gaining liberty and self-determination, and trampling their rights. I am both glad and sorry to learn about this case. I think you do right to do honor to the four victims. And that you are wise to stay away from men or women who think like the father and brother nd who could justify their deaths.

'Honor Was The Theme In Mass Murder' could also be the title of our illegal and immoral wars against the Muslim world including Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and more to come.
Whether its JSOC forces killing pregnant women and then digging the bullets out with a knife to cover it up, dropping drones on civilians, or mass slaughters like Haditha, Nissor Square, Fallujah or countless others, the United States justifies their killing behind the theme of honor as well.
Thank you for writing about this. I know when my husband and I lived in Detroit, there is a large Muslim population in Dearborn, and there would be cases of girls being beaten or killed by their dads for such things as not wearing the hijab or having a boyfriend. I find it incomprehensible, but what does the word "honor" mean anyway? To me it means living up to the best a human can possibly be, and giving that as a gift to everyone. Death, control, persecution, have no place in that concept for me.
Your great Fusuna! May this open a dialogue for further growth and understanding for all sentient beings.
Oh, my goodness, Fusun, what a horrifying, troubling report. Honor killings has to be the worst oxymoron ever. Such a tragedy and such a waste. When will humanity grow through this horrific nonsense?
What a frightening, disturbing story. Thanks for sharing it with us!! (r)
I've struggled to understand how women like Tooba Yahya become complicit in crimes like this, too. In some cases it may be fear of harm if they don't comply, but in others it may be a sort of Stockholm Syndrome, where, completely cut off from outside support, the victims come to identify with their captors.
There can't be anything in the texts of any of the world's major religions, inclucing the Koran, that condone honor killing.
I didn't hear about this case until this morning when I saw the headline on my computer. I am pleased with the Canadian authorities for the conviction. I have always wondered why honor is placed as the woman's burden and why the men are not expected to have honor of their own.
So heartbreaking. I watched yesterdays news on this; my husband was confused because a wife was killed and another was part of the murder. I said, I bet his name is Mohammed and I was right. Girls and women always, always suffer the most on Planet earth.
I heard nothing about this case previously. What a tragic story. There is no honor in this type of sick repression of women. I don't identify this kind of thing with Islam. I identify it with a culture of insecure, sick men who try to use "tradition" as a shield for their sickness.
This is the first I've heard of this particular crime, and it is unsettling as any murder is. Ironic that in one culture, murder lends honor to the murderer, while in another it dishonors the murderer. He will not do easy time in prison, I suspect.
No words just a heavy sigh...
I had not followed this story. It is heart breaking. I am sure that had I been born into an Orthodox home, I would have been cast out. The idea of being controlled is repulsive to me. Your post has explained the rationale. Helps to understand... but then one wonders, why the "wise fathers" brought their family to Canada, where their cultural requisites would/might be challenged.
It really can't make sense. Everytime I hear of these killings I just can't find a single thing to understand. The participation of a woman here makes it even worse. The results of the trial are on the news but I didn't hear or this one till then. Thanks for this , Fusun.
I hadn't heard about this until a few days ago. To kill in order to "restore honor" is the most illogical thing I can imagine. Unfortunately, it's as old as human civilization. Thank you for providing a voice here for these four women.
Really, "honour killing" was fairly entrenched in Southern Europe until recent times? Proof anyone???? Like, uh, Myriad?
Excellent article! I hadn't heard of this case. I just still can't imagine anyone killing anyone (unless for defense).......How could anyone do such a thing???
I know a little (probably less than I think) about the Canadian prisons. Greenheron suspects they will not have an easy time of it in prison. I'm not sure that they'll have a harder time than standard. Some notorious inmates are kept in solitary for their own protection for quite some time (Paul Bernardo will probably spend the rest of his life that way), but many of them are released into the general population after a while. The general population, esp. in the max prisons, aren't all that self-righteous: The prison code is don't ask what anyone is in for. I remember once some kerfuffle when an inmate somehow got hold of a list of inmates and their crimes, which he used to blackmail them with. OTOH, this guy will be notorious and probably kept in seg for a while. On the third hand, I remember visiting once and seeing someone who was in for a crime so ghastly I won't recount the details, and he was lined up for lunch with the rest of them...but on the fourth hand, his crime and trial didn't hit the papers and the general pop may not know what he did.

As for counselling, Brazen: Our prisons (at least before the present Conservative government cut back on stuff in the prison system) offered quite a lot in the way of programs. Effectiveness, of course, depends on the attitude of the inmate. The father in this case is in his 50s and has no chance of parole before 15 years, and then it is called "faint hope". He will probably have to serve the whole 25 before being eligible for parole, which gives him a fairly good chance of dying first. The son might benefit from his prison 'education', and might even have a faint hope for the "faint hope" parole after 15 years, having been a young and impressionable Good Son rather than the chief instigator. If he does his whole 25 years and then is successful in getting parole (which is lifetime parole in murder cases), he'll likely be pretty 'institutionalized' and hard put to make it on the outside, whatever counselling he gets in prison.

What the family patriarch here did was not only destroy the lives of his first wife and his three daughters, but the lives of his second wife, his son and himself. He probably feels 'honourable', however. Honour is more important than life to people in this culture. (Culture, not religion...tho these days it does seem most prevalent in Islam.)
A case like this happened here too.A young woman was shot by her youngest brother because she wanted to live on her own with her little son.The young man was imprisoned,the two oldest ones fled to their home country,the father died of cancer,and the mother is left totally alone.
I wonder what happened to the little boy.
Tragedy started with the honour killing.
Füsun,thank you for this insight and the book links.
Füsun,belated Happy Birthday!!!
The effects on women living in a patriarchal society have recently been a subject of profound interest to me. Thank you for this very detailed account of a horribly tragic situation. Rated with admiration.
Awful, Fusun. So much for civilized society. So much brutality against women. Hard to conceive of the torment these women endured. Rated.
Though I had not heard of this particular case, I have followed a few cases in the past of these "Honor Killings". Like most Westerners who hear about this, I have trouble wrapping my mind around the concept.
Interestingly, as I read this entry the TV was on and CNN was doing a report on the very same case.
BJ - google is your friend.
I had heard of this, but not the details. Terrible, simply terrible.
I had not heard about this case and had no idea that "honor killings" still existed. It is absolutely horrific, and stunning to me that a woman was one of the murderers -- although given her husband, she probably felt she didn't have a choice and had lost the ability to think for herself.
I had seen and read of the killings and the trial. I am just dumb struck. How can I speak of this horror? I have no faith in religions, that some deity could condone the mindset of people who think that they have the right to choose who lives or dies based on a presumption of holy endorsement baffles me. I know it isn't the religions rules yet if asked I have heard god referenced along with prayer in many "honour" murders. How can someone think that it is right to have that kind of control over another human being? How can a parent look their own child in the eye and kill them over this kind of trivial thing? It just sickens me.
Hard to read but thank you for honoring the women. I keep thinking the world is changing for the better but then it only gets worse. sigh.
And you do them great honor to tell the story to those of us who did not know about this. I don't follow the news much, so I don't always know about such things. R
Thank you for sharing this story. I have not heard of this family but I have heard of the practice of honour killing. It is a concept that I do not understand. I know our courts are guilty of blaming the victim especially in the case of rape but this takes it to a different level.
rated with love
I had not heard of this and as awful as it is, I welcome your sharing it here.
I am also challenged by this: I am holly unaware of any incidents among Near East Jews of honor killings and so I will try to look into this. It would, of course, sadden me.
It is all a question of "Who Owns You", isn't it?- Church?, State? Family? Your own emerging self-awareness?

Honor killings are most reported in Hindu/Muslim cultures as far as I am currently aware, but a parallel exists with any group which feels it "owns" its constituent members. be it God/Church/Soul,- Government/community/individual, - or patriarch(matriarch)/family/kinsman.

Honor killings are much more "culturally shocking" to a nation which has "Free will" as its founding tenet.

You are responsible for your own individuality- but you are also responsible for the self aware exercise of free will within your community. That's what it means to be an individual- or more formally, an Individualist who believes in Free Will.

Do you OWN your children? Can you own another Human Being? The answer to that must always be "no". in our society.

That's why it is so shocking and incomprehensible when we encounter the workings of a culture or code where the answer to the question is "Of course I own them!"

You must support the informed exercise of free will in whatever form. That's how we become and remain Human, rather than units of a Borg.
I just read about this story yesterday, for the first time, after the verdicts came in. There are no honour killings, just killings. We still have a long climb out of the dark ages for many. Thankfully, the resistance to this way of thinking is showing up around the world as well. The increase in known murders shows that we are more aware that this is happening, and that more women are refusing to be chattel. Unfortunately, there are no wars without casualties. Their lives will show many women there is a better life to be had, and they can get there through the justice system.
Thanks to everyone who commented, I won't be able to reply individually. However, I agree with many of you who stated that this incident has nothing to do with “honour”. As of today the guilty are serving the first day of their sentence although they still insist that they are “innocent” and are looking into the possibility of an appeal.

The result of the ruling is expected to encourage more women to come forth and speak out, however, the social measures to protect and and help them have to be in place first so that the same tragedy will not be repeated.
The justice system unfortunately failed in this case, not taking the women seriously. The following is from The Montreal Gazette -Jan.30.2012:

"Geeti also told police that her father often threatened that he was going to kill them," prosecutor Laurie Lacelle said, reading into the court record a statement from the officer.

Geeti and other Shafia children spoke to police in April 2009, roughly 10 weeks before their deaths. They told officers they feared violence from their father because their sister Zainab had run away from home. Geeti told the police that a week earlier her father had pulled her hair and hit her in the face. She said her brother Hamed punched her in the eye with his fist. The assaults came after the children returned home at 9 p.m., after their curfew, from a trip to a shopping mall."
www.spiegel.de/jahreschronik/0,1518,452506,00.htmlÄhnliche Seiten
This is the link on the case in Germany in February 2005.
About 21 years ago a young woman down the street from us was killed by her Palestinian born father and Brazilian born mother in an honor killing which the FBI caught on tape, since they suspected her father of unspecified terrorist activities. We heard part of the tape on local news and it was and still is haunting.
The irony of it all, such as despicable and dishonourable crime in order to honour himself. Great article, we all honour these women...
...be in Love, not fear...
I followed this story in recent days, but not before. Good for you for bringing more attention to it and honoring the women. It is indeed horrifying. Well done.
This is a story I have missed until now. I am so glad I scrolled down and read your subsequent comment about your own upbringing. It is very difficult to wrap my brain around this treatment of women in this day and time. My ignorance of the customs and mores of the "typical Muslim" versus the extremists' customs renders me unable to really comment much further. Great job of bringing it to our attention, Fusun.

Thanks for honoring the women with your telling. Many of us had not heard of this crime.
I have been aware of this type of "honor" killing. I've read cases mostly of people who have come to America, became citizens and then committed these "honor" killings (in one case, an Indian man chased his 16 year old daughter down the street, stabbing her repeatedly for "shaming" his family's honor by disobeying him in the seeing of a boy he had forbade) and then they attempt to pass it off in American Courts as justifiable and a part of their culture. So far, none of the US cases I have read has resulted in acquittal, thank goodness.

In other parts of the world, the matters usually weigh in favor of the aggreieved family member who would have had to live with the shame if they had let their female family member live.

All I can say about this is: It proves to me once again that people who think this is okay are only slightly better than wild animals, living for the exactance of bloodlust, revenge and will resort to violence for controlling others, especially women, in the name of "honor" of which there exists none when you can justify murder in the name of shaming a name.

Fusun, I knew of it, but hadn't heard all the awful details. The women deserve to be remembered...and we would do well to move outside of our comfortable bubble of day-to-day life here in the USA sometimes, to be sure. Thank you for bursting that bubble for us with this heart-rending story. Filling in the blanks left by the quick news "sound bites" is crucial.
FusunA. thank you for sharing this article.
When I heard of the verdict, I thought "Great. Another blemish on Islam" As a Muslim it is important to let the world know that these actions are not indicative of the religion, but instead cultural and deep rooted in a patriarchal society.
I feel sorry for those girls who were only being "just girls". American Muslim girls, in most families, are allowed to be themselves with limitations, but don't worry about being killed for not wearing hijab.
I know of an honor killing here in Georgia, but that was because of intercultural marriage; and not for fear that your Daddy's gonna kill ya because you wear lipstick. Haram!
I hadn't followed this particular case, but thank you for sharing it with us, FasunA. It makes sense to me that honor killings are on the rise. I can imagine that every step a woman takes towards liberation seems to leave a man standing behind her wondering where he lost control. I find it sad that the men need to rely upon the women in their life for their honor rather than acting honorably themselves. Seems like the easy way out to me.

Thank you for sharing this post with us. You do these women great honor with your words.
This was fascinating and tragic. I didn't know about this case, but I have heard of other "honor killings" - I think there was one recently in the UK. Great reporting here - it does the victims honor. As for the upcoming book, sounds like a compelling read, but I'm not so sure about the title....
It is bizarre anyone could look at a family member and think -- I'd rather have you dead than doing something I disapprove of. I know in this case it's being called a cultural/religious phenomenon, but it's also sick and evil and I'm sure in the majority of cases where a parent (even a staunchly religious one) finds out a daughter is being disobedient, the reaction isn't to kill them. I hope their community and religious leaders are coming out against the killings.
Thanks to all the readers. A few more notes will hopefully address some of the other comments.

Montréal's Afghan community disassociates itself from the actions of Mohammad Shafia and his accomplices. The spokesman for the community stated that the heinous crime is not part of any Islamic belief, it is a tribal or cultural practice which is not common. The Shafias were not seen as practising Muslims. Saima Ishaq of Concordia University, who did her masters thesis on the topic of honor killings agrees. She said in a news interview that this is a case of cold blooded, pre-meditated murder which cannot be justified by religious beliefs in any way. Islam does not promote killing. Ignorance with hatred does.
I haven't read through all the comments and I'm sure it's been said before ... there is absolutely no honour in this tragedy. It's also so tragic that the authorities couldn't help those young women. The thing is, I believe those two shown in the photo above, still think they did the "honourable" thing!
Thanks for this. It is cultural and there are religious underpinnings. It is a kind of tribal influence which is supported in the society where they originated from.

The difficulties that people have in new environments and the solutions for them, rest on what they have seen or believed, or knew as their positive reaction to the difficult situation. The influence of the western culture is rejected if it upsets the tradition and comfort level of the male household occupants who have the power by tradition in the family. It is a patriarchy.

There are religions in this country that support the same type of influence and often use violent means to keep their power and control "their women." The example here involving the murder of these women is that same ideology and power, taken to the utmost extreme. It is very important to understand that religion does play a role, but there are many religions or sects of many religions that do not. Honor killing is something that there is no real justification for in our society. When we hear of these events in our westernized society, we know that it is not "our normal". People who immigrate to our western culture cannot change that culture, so they try to prevent their women from integrating into it.

That is not possible except by force in some cases. The best thing that could have happened here in my opinion was for the people involved to be deported. To return to their culture where there would be no changes in their familial authority. Perhaps the women could have applied to stay. There should be a process that allows these people to be separated from what we would call their abusers in our culture, much as a battered woman can do to escape their tormentors. That should be a universal concept.

This must be stopped and that stops by women being accepted as equals to men. That is a concept that is not embraced by many religions, cultures, countries and even other women. Until that is overcome, we can expect to see this kind of behavior and we must continue to punish it and work globally to prevent this kind of extreme patriarchy.

This is not anything unique to any one religion. It is a pattern of behavior that hides under the cloak of power and religion.

I hope I have made my argument clear and not offended anyone's religious feelings, experiences or faith, that is not my intention.
Such a sad story - I had not heard about it at all. Thanks for bring it to our attention. I wonder how far removed Western thought really is from this mindset. Shame is still a concept most often applied to females, it seems. That's one reason so many women don't report rapes or abuse.
I had not heard of this case. It's bone chilling. Like rape, it's about power. What tremendous power women hold over some men that the men must resort to such brutal means of control. I see a connection, of sorts, between this crime and the abuse of a former student of mine. This twelve-year-old girl had been sexually abused by her father for several years. When she finally told at school, her mother sided with the father and blamed the girl. The girl was removed from the home. I don't get it.
Thanks Fusun. Yes, I have been following this and I have been very upset with any sort of linkage to the Muslim faith. Several of my students last year were Muslim, and we had great conversations when the local Imam came to visit and have lunch with my art history kids. All the Muslims I have meant are wonderful people;I hate to have low informational individuals link this story with them or the Muslim faith. heart back!
ps: SUCH an important piece! Happy ep!rrrrr
Well deserved EP! You more than honor the tragedy of these women; you honor all women with this piece.
funsun, i heard about this when they were arrested. How did the prosecution make its case? I am interested. Violence against the weak (physically, financially, etc.) is a state of our animal nature that seems to be growing in power in modern times. Hatred and distrust of women seems to be a large factor in these kinds of crimes.
The Globe and Mail reports that defense attorneys are appealing based on prejudicial testimony; "They say that the appeal will focus on hearsay testimony from peripheral witnesses, police interrogations that appeared oppressive and testimony from a controversial expert witness about honour killings." What is controversial about the expert witness, Shahrzad Mojab?
@Rodney - I don't find anything controversial about Shahrzad Mojab, but I can understand that the defense will grab at anything they can for an appeal. For example the Defense lawyer made the prosecution's key witness sound tainted, by stating at the end that she was not neutral, and that she gave her evidence from a "feminist perspective."

If you are interested, you can read more at:


I'll pm the link if it doesn't show up properly here.
Fusun, thanks for highlighting this issue, which impacts thousands of women each year. It's such a huge problem in many parts of the world but gets little attention in North America. The organization I work for has a Women's Rights program that does some work on legal reform in this area. http://www.stopvaw.org/honor_killings.html
Thank you so much for honoring the women!
Thank you for this well told reminder of the fate of women in some other cultures and other parts of the world. It is easy to forget how fortunate we are in our freedom as women.
Such a powerful piece Fusun. I had not heard of this case. So sad....
Congrats on the well-deserved EP!
Very disturbing, but I'm glad you shared this story with us.
I hadn't heard of this case so thanks for highlighting it Fusun. The really sad part is that those kids were crying out for help and nobody heard them or maybe cared enough to help them.
How horrific! Hard to imagine such a mind that would perform such acts.
I knew nothing about this, Fusun, and now I feel like I know almost too much, but I
am glad to have read this, painful as it is. Rated, love
Excellent writing about a horrendous event. You were brave to follow this and write so well about it.
Thanks for posting this. I heard a little bit about this when we were over sees last week, but nothing here in the states.
Boy, am I glad I am late here. Let me first apologize, I have a bad bug and for what I am going to say. What these animals did has nothing to do with honor, and it has nothing to do with Islam. The Prophet Mohammad stopped the Arabs from killing their newborn baby girls. Yet this Afghani culture stands unique in the world as being the closest to animals. Again,
1. The murders have nothing to do with honor.
2. The murders have nothing to do with Islam.
3. The murders have everything to do with Afghan culture.

I heard/read (not sure which) that the Islams who testified against the Shafias are being shunned by their community. Have you heard anything like that?
Mind-boggling. The photo of the headstones in the snow is a perfect punctuation to the whole thing.
And I hope you had a wonderful birthday.
Excellent post and commentaries that it brought on. Sad topic.
Agree with MCS - No honour in any of this.
this is very sad story !
Thank you for posting this story...this is a very sad story indeed...no comment.
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but that sounds like wishful thinking given the situations around the world.bullriding
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