She began to change, friends say. Shahdady no longer wanted to wear a burka that covered her face and body but would don just the hijab head scarf instead. She’d registered at the Adult Learning Centre to work on her high school diploma this fall and was hoping to one day realize her dream of becoming a doctor.
“All her friends were finishing college or university and getting good jobs and she felt she was being left behind,” explains family friend Zaffar Baloch. “She wanted to throw away the veil and live an ordinary independent life of a woman.”
But she had to sponsor her husband here and his arrival in May forced her back into the cage she had struggled so long to escape. He wanted her to wear a burka, to stay away from Facebook, to put aside any plans she had of resuming a secular education.
“She rebelled,” explains Tarek Fatah, founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress. “With the help of social services, she got an apartment for herself and her son. She was leaving her husband and asking for a divorce. How dare she? It would dishonour everyone.”
She and her son moved out July 1. After just three weeks of freedom, she was dead.
Between 1 and 2 a.m. on July 22, neighbours in the building at 3131 Eglinton Ave. E. heard the shrill screaming of a child that went on for 15 minutes. And then silence. More than 15 hours later, Shahdady’s distraught father discovered his 2-year-old grandson alone in the apartment with his daughter’s dead body. She had been strangled on her bed.
In a shocking incident, a Pakistani man has gunned down his six daughters on suspicion that two of them were in relationships with boys in the neighbourhood. Arif Mubashir called his teenage daughters to his room and shot them while the rest of the family, including their mother, watched. His wife Musarrat called the police after the incident, the Express Tribune daily reported today.
Mubashir, a resident of Punjab province, shot the girls after their brother said two of them were in a relationship. He told police officials that he had killed his daughters because they were “without honour”. The man said his daughters Sameena, 14, and Razia, 16, were in a relationship with college boys from the neighbourhood and the sisters had helped each other. “I should have been told immediately but the girls sided with each other. They were both corrupt,” Mubashir told Tandlianwala Police Inspector Javed Sial.
Police officials have taken Mubashir into custody and filed a case against him. “He does not regret what he did. He boasted that he would do it all over again if he had to,” Sial was quoted as saying.
Good news. Now, let’s hope the measures they take will serve for something:
Eliminating gender-based violence in Kurdistan, the conservative northern region of Iraq where “honour”-based killings are still common, remains a battle. But the regional government has reaffirmed its commitment to tackle the tribal traditions that devalue women’s lives.In a conference on 25 November to celebrate the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, the Kurdish Prime Minister, Barham Salih, said honour killings were a result of “social backwardness and a patriarchal domination” and the government would take measures to end the “embarrassing” act.
According to Aso Kamal, a human rights activist with the Doaa Network Against Violence, more than 12,000 women died in honour-based killings between 1991 and 2007, a figure dismissed by the regional government, whose statistics show a decline in recent years, the New York Times recently reported.
Kurdish academic Nazand Bagikhani, who has co-authored a Kurdish Regional Government-funded research on honour killings, said accurate figures on gender-based crimes were difficult to compile because the violence happened in the home.
In her 168-page report, the first study of honour killing in the semi-autonomous region, Bagikhani highlighted the mentality in many parts of Kurdistan that sees family honour as more important than the lives of women.