Mummy Buzz


Dishonourable Killings

No Place in Civilized Society

It was a pretty spectacular trial and will no doubt go down in Canada's notorious criminal books. But three members of an Afghan family were found guilty of drowning three teenage sisters and another woman in a version of 'honour' killings.

As Canadians we pride ourselves on our multiculturalism, but what does that mean when a culture transfers certain undesirable practices on our shores. Murder is murder, no matter what you call it.

The family in this case killed its own because the sisters were said to be "too western"—defying tradition by virtue of fashion, dating, socializing and internet use.

It may have taken 15 hours for jurors to convict Muhammad Shafia, 58, his wife Tooba Yahya, 42, and their son Hamed, 21, but they all came out with 25-year life sentences—the penalty for murder in the first.

Back in June 2009, the women's bodies were found trapped within a submerged vehicle in a Kingston, Ont., canal in what initially appeared to be an accident, a joy ride gone awry.

"It is difficult to conceive of a more heinous, more despicable, more honourless crime," said Ontario superior court judge Robert Maranger. "The apparent reason behind these cold-blooded, shameful murders was that the four completely innocent victims offended your completely twisted concept of honour...that has absolutely no place in any civilised society."

In 2007 the family had left Afghanistan and settled in Canada where Shafia kept a secret polygamous marriage that, if revealed, would have seen him and his family deported.

He was caught on wire and cell phone recordings claiming his late daughters were "treacherous and whores and invoking the devil to defecate on their graves."

Honour killings have no place in this country. How, then, do we as a nation reconcile maintaining our cultural heritage while adhering to this young country's laws and values? Or are the two mutually exclusive?