Honor Killings: The Fight Continues, Afghan Family Member to Appeal Verdict

 @ceylanwrites
on January 31 2012 11:00 AM
Honor Killings
At least one family member of an Afghan Canadian family found guilty of “honor killing” three siblings and a fourth relative will be appealing the conviction and sentence of life in prison, the family’s lawyer said on Monday. Reuters

At least one family member of an Afghan-Canadian family found guilty of honor killing three siblings and a fourth relative, will be appealing the conviction and sentence of life in prison, the family's lawyer said on Monday.

 A Canadian jury on Sunday found husband and wife Mohammad Shafia, 58; Tooba Mohammad Yahya,42; and their eldest son Hamed Mohammad Shafia, 21; guilty of first-degree murder on four counts.

According to prosecutors, the defendants killed the victims for dishonoring their family through socializing with boys and defying the family's strict rules on dress code, phone and Internet.

The defendants tried to cover for the killings by citing a freak car accident as the cause of death. Three sisters and their cousin were found drowned in a canal lock in Ontario on Jan. 30 2009.

Over the course of the three-month trial, the jury heard several statements that claimed the sisters had clashed with their father on several issues, Reuters reported. One of the sisters had even sought refuge in a women's shelter to protect herself from him.

Although the family has denied having any involvement in the murder, Mohammad Shafia was caught justifying the incident in a secret wiretapped recording.

They betrayed our religion and creed. They betrayed our tradition. God curse their generation, they were filthy and rotten children, CBC News reported. Even if they hoist me up to the gallows, nothing is more dear to me than my honor. There is nothing more valuable than our honor.

The prosecution said the case was one of premeditated murder that was staged in a way to make the incident look like an accident. After the family was charged with life in prison and no chance of parole for 25 years, Shafia told his lawyer Patrick McCann, that he would press on and continue the fight.

The case has been ongoing for three years and more than 80 Canadian Muslims organizations have been involved in advocating for an end to such brutal murders. Canadian government officials also condemned the killings.

Honor motivated violence is NOT culture; it is barbaric violence against women. Canada must never tolerate such misogyny as culture, Rona Ambrose, the government's minister in charge of women's rights, wrote on Twitter soon after Sunday's verdicts against the Montreal couple and their eldest son.

What are Honor Killings?

Killing in the name of honor is a legitimized tradition in some cultures. It started as a Baluch and Pashtun tribal practice before it was incorporated into some Islamic societies. Victims of honor crimes can be tortured or killed on the grounds of disobeying strict family rules on dating, marriage and dress codes.  

In many countries honor crimes are considered a mitigating factor instead of an aggravating factor, which had led to international movements to carry out extensive investigations into such cases and crack down on such murders.

According to the UN, 5,000 women are killed in the name of honor per year. 

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