Hege Storhaug, HRS
Jeg kan ikke erindre at vi i vesten tidligere har vitnet æresdrapssak der fire personer er ofre. Saken i Canada vekker naturlig nok betydelig oppsikt og setter integreringsperspektiv på den politiske dagsordenen.
Familien det handler om har bakgrunn fra Afghanistan, flyttet så til Pakistan i 1992, og deretter videre til Australia, Dubai, og så til Canada i 2007. Vitner forteller om en streng familie preget av vold. Verken gutter eller jenter i familien fikk ha forhold til motsatt kjønn før ferdig utdannelse. Eldste datteren på 19 år rømte hjemmefra i en periode, og søstrene ba myndighetene om å bli fjernet fra hjemmet. Førstekona (52), som var ufruktbar, ble også fysisk mishandlet, og dagboken hennes vitner om at hun ville skille seg. Dette skal ha vært motivet for å inkludere henne i planen om å drepe døtrene. Motivet for å drepe døtrene skal ha vært at de ikke adlød den strenge faren ved at de kledde seg vestlig og hadde guttevenner, melder Daily Mail.
Tooba Mohammad Yahya, 41, is accused of conspiring with her husband, Mohammad Shafia, 58, and their eldest son, Hamed, 21, of running one of their family cars into a canal with their four relatives inside.
Prosecutors say that they did so in order to protect their family’s honour because the four women were acting disobediently by having boyfriends, wearing skimpy clothes, and not listening to their strict Muslim father.
Shafia was polygamous, and lived with both his first wife Rona Amir Mohammad, 52, and his second wife, Yahya, in their home in Canada.
Rona was infertile, Shafia was allowed to take a second wife without divorcing his first, which was in accordance to Islamic law.
Now, a Canadian court is judging whether or not Shafia, Yahya and Hamed acted together to kill their family members in an effort to restore honour to their family name, or if Rona, Zainab Shafia, 19, Sahar Shafia, 17, and Geeti Shafia, 13, all died in a tragic car accident as the accused claim.
When the car was found in the canal on June 30, 2009, there was no one in the driver’s seat and three of them had bruising to the back of their heads.
The trial resumed Monday after being paused in December. Mohamma Yahya took the stand, and while she was never asked directly about the death of her relatives, she used her time to rebut the view of their household as a harsh one.
She said that her husband only hit the children once and used to badger them verbally if they were bad, not beat them.
‘He used to go on and continuously; he was just swearing at them and continuously talking about that for weeks,’ she said at the trial.
Other witnesses disagree, saying that their eldest daughter, Zainab, was forbidden to attend school for a year because she had a young Pakistani-Canadian boyfriend, and she fled to a shelter, terrified of her father, the court was told.
The jury heard testimony that Zainab’s sisters, Sahar, 17, and Geeti, 13, were hounded and trailed by their brothers because the parents suspected them of dating boys; that Sahar repeatedly said her father would kill her if he found out she had a boyfriend; that she had bruises on her arms; that Mohammad, the first wife who was helping to raise the children, also was brutally treated.
Zainab ran away from home for a couple of weeks and her sisters contacted authorities, saying they wanted to be removed from the home because of violence and their father’s strict parenting, the prosecution said.
Prosecutor Laurie Lacelle presented wire taps and cell phone records from the Shafia family in court. In one phone conversation, the father says his daughters ‘betrayed us immensely’.
Fazil Javad, Shafia’s brother-in-law, said Shafia tried to enlist him in a plan to drown Zainab.
«Even if they hoist me up to the gallows, nothing is more dear to me than my honour. There is nothing more valuable than our honour,» Ms Lacelle quoted Shafia as saying in an intercept transcript.
In her testimony Monday, Yahya painted a very different picture of the Shafia household: she described a tolerant house where the girls were not required to wear the traditional Muslim headscarf and were not forbidden from wearing makeup.
She did uphold the theory that their family forbid-not only the girls- all of their seven children from dating until they graduated from high school.
‘Me and Shafia and also Rona, we decided that (until) the time that the children graduated from school and they … show their diploma to us, they are not allowed to have girlfriend or boyfriend or to get married,’ Yahya said on the stand.
In addition to disputing the views of other witnesses, including Shafia’s brother-in-law who said that Shafia tried to enlist him in a plan to drown Zainab, Yahya also had to address the many grievances listed in Rona’s diary.
Rona described a violent and miserable household where she was abused and pushed out. Apparently Rona wanted a divorce and that was the reason why Shafia allegedly included her among his disobedient daughters in the honour killing.
The case is bringing up major questions about immigration and cultural integration in Canada, which takes in 250,000 immigrants a year, more per capita than anywhere save Australia.
The Shafia family are originally from Afghanistan, but left in 1992 and then lived in Pakistan, Australia and Dubai before settling in Canada in 2007.
In recent years a number of so-called honour killings have prompted debate about absorbing immigrants into the mainstream and dealing with culture clashes between immigrant parents and their children.
More than 80 Canadian Muslim organizations, imams and community leaders have signed a call for action against ‘the reality of domestic violence within our own communities, compounded by abhorrent and yet persistent pre-Islamic practices rooted in the misguided notion of restoring family honour’.