Shafia trial missed opportunity to speak out for women everywhere

I was disappointed in some of the media coverage of the heinous murder trial in Kingston. On Sunday, three family members were convicted of first degree murder in the honour killings of four other family members.

Mohammad Shafia and his son Hamed, along with his second wife Tooba Yahya, all immigrants from Afghanistan living in Montreal, were found guilty of killing Shafia’s first wife Rona Amir Mohammad and daughters Zainab, Sahar and Geeti.

Media reported that this is not acceptable in Canada. But this should not be acceptable anywhere.

The judge and crown missed a chance to condemn it period, not just in Canada.

How can we express outrage that this happened in Canada and not speak out about the same horrors that happen in other countries where women are treated as slaves and disposed of without thought?

It is estimated about 5,000 females are murdered each year to keep the family honour and it could be much higher, a CBC report suggested.

Crown attorney Gerard Laarhuis said Canadian values won.

“This jury found that four strong, vivacious and freedom-loving women were murdered by their own family in the most troubling of circumstances,” he said.

“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.”

This is more than just about Canadian values. This is about human rights and equality.

Justice Robert Maranger said honour killings have “no place in any civilized society.”

They have no place anywhere.

Some news outlets did talk about the crime around the world as would be expected.

Until we can eradicate honour killings not just in Canada but around the globe, justice is not served.


8 thoughts on “Shafia trial missed opportunity to speak out for women everywhere

  1. Don’t think it’s the role of officers of Canadian Courts to tell foreign countries how to set up their laws during a trial. Their job was to deal with the charges against the 3 accused, and if they wandered off giving opinions on other matters they would run the risk of providing a basis for the defence to Appeal the verdict/sentence. Their juriisdiction to mete out Justice is this country.
    There doesn’t seem to be anyone here speaking up for “honour killing” – to put an end to it requires convincing foreign countries to criminalize it. Lots of disapproval, just no concrete
    ideas for how to influence other nations. In this one the case has raised the issue in the migrant communities/cultures that might still believe in this old world practice.
    I think we need to be clear what the reader can expect as responsible news coverage, and where we want to be given Opinions. I for one resent having others’ opinion mixed in with the facts before I’ve had a chance to consider them and start forming my own views. To me it is a form of dumbing down news media..
    It would be of interest to know what NGOs are working in this field for prevention, with the mix of volatile mix of religion, misogeny, and range of foreign criminal legislation. Anyone know ?

  2. M,
    The news outlets that did a good job reported the honour killings with a perspective on what is happening around the world. Getting experts to comment on it gives us a better perspective on what we’re dealing with worldwide.
    Media columnists assigned to cover the case (and to give opinions) could have stated it is not acceptable anywhere.
    The judge could have said honour killings have no place anywhere (instead he chose to use in a civilized society, which leaves the impression it’s OK in countries not civilized by our standards).
    I agree it’s not up to the courts to tell other places how to run their justice systems, but an overall condemnation would have been appropriate instead of, in my opinion, only a partial one. Hopefully now that a guilty verdict has been delivered here it may be what is needed to spur other countries to action against such killings.
    Would also like to know what NGOs are dealing with this issue.

  3. The Appeal stories have started, with a suggestion that the 3 accused were tried by media and experts by tagging them “honour killings”. Too much analysis published, in my opinion, before the duly appointed 12 peers, the jury, had presented their decision, the Verdict. And before the assigned justice had presented his Sentencing decision.
    Now the topic is up for discussion here and globally. Whether those in foreign countries who endorse the practice of Murder by intent of female relatives who offend some “community” norm are aware of or even interested in what Canadian media say is debatable.
    Would be interested in a legal opinion on what is appropriate for a presiding judge to say. My
    feeling is that they should stick close to minding their own shop lest they leave room for complaint.
    Perhaps this one outside his courtroom may say the obvious. This country’s criminal code does
    not permit this kind of behaviour, and Canadians generally have long agreed.
    This story is not ended by a long shot….But Outrage always suggests a desire to strike back – which is the root of the apparently rationale of the father.
    Any coverage of his home overseas and its “culture”, or the “community” he belongs to in Montreal that he was trying to impress ?

  4. Hi M,
    Hasn’t been much written about Shafia’s community in Montreal or in Afghanistan that I have seen.
    I think it was the Gazette that went to the Shafia neighbourhood after the verdict and couldn’t get anyone to talk.
    I think the father is mentally ill, if not psychotic, so his own beliefs were not likely based on reality. He may have thought his honour was in question or that people in his circle of influence cared when they probably did not even know that much about his daughters.

  5. Kathy, David Staples Edmonton Sun, speaks to a point that bothers you.
    Google Judge Robert Maranger ,,, Canadian Hero and you should pick it up.
    Can’t seem to make link for you.

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