Christie Blatchford’s column in today’s National Post is a gripping but disturbing read – ‘I would do it again’; Court hears horror of alleged honour killing.
The Sahfia trial opened yesterday and some of the evidence presented was shocking:
…In a detailed opening address of 90 minutes, Ms. Lacelle told the jurors they would hear from a variety of witnesses, including those to whom Rona Mohammad and the children had confided their fear of Mr. Shafia and Hamid.
In fact, what was most galling about the prosecutor’s overview of the evidence to come was how very openly the teenagers had rebelled against their parents – once, from a street corner in Montreal where the family lived, they begged a stranger to call 911 for them because they were so afraid to go home – and how little Canadian authorities and Canadian law helped them.
In fact, Quebec child protection authorities twice investigated complaints from Sahar’s school, once little more than three weeks before the four bodies were found.
In the first instance, Ms. Lacelle said, the social worker deemed the complaint to be “founded” – true, in other words – but closed the file anyway when Sahar wouldn’t talk to her once she learned that the worker would be obligated to tell her parents what she’d told her.
The next time she interviewed the girl two days later, “Sahar was wearing the hijab” and claimed things had improved at home.
In the second instance, though police in Montreal interviewed the children separately and had them open up about their maltreatment – including the fact that Mr. Shafia allegedly “often threatened to kill them” – the child protection worker interviewed the girls in the presence of their parents.
Unsurprisingly, they clammed up or recanted their earlier allegations, and the worker closed the file…
Obviously we have a problem here. How can young Muslim Canadians feel safe going to authorities about concerns for their own safety if they’re just going to be thrown back into the situation with the male family members’ knowledge of their complaints? It’s like throwing gasoline on a smoldering fire.
We tell these young immigrants they are safe in Canada, but the mixed messages must be difficult to live with.
The girls wanted to be free Canadians but the father, second wife and older brother were obviously repulsed by their behaviour. The children tried to get help. One even attempted suicide:
But Sahar, too, was rebelling. She had a boyfriend. She loved makeup and clothes, like her big sister. She wanted to be a gynecologist, and was moved by the plight of her native sisters in Afghanistan.
Once, miserable at facing the prospect of having to wear a hijab, she tried to kill herself. According to Rona Mohammad’s diary, Ms. Yahya snapped, “She can go to hell; let her kill herself.”
But it was the little girl, Geeti, who fought her parents most ferociously and who begged most blatantly for help.
“She told her school,” Ms. Lacelle said. “She told the police. She told youth protection.”
What she told them was that she wanted to be out of her family home, to be placed with a foster family…
So while we all ponder how we as a society failed Jamie Hubley, let’s also give some thought as to how we can help young Muslim Canadian girls caught in this prison of male dominance, polygamy and oppression – even if it’s not politically correct to do so.
Will it get better for them??
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Blast from the not-too-recent-past – Premier McGuinty weighs in on school’s Muslim prayer controversy. Those poor menstruating girls are being sold out by political correctness.
And another very poignant tale: A collision of cultures and wives – Rosie DiManno, Star
Christie Blatchford has a second column out on this trial – Diary of ‘honour killing’ victim reveals competitive, misogynist culture.