Women without a voice and what we can do about it

By Ruth Limkin

Last night I read about four women from the one family: Zainab, 19, Sahar, 17, and Geeti, 13, and Rona Amir Mohammad, 52. All four women died at the hands of close relatives less than two years ago. The household patriarch, along with one of his wives and his son were all found guilty yesterday of their murder.

In a world uncomfortably familiar with honour killings, I suspect the only reason we heard of their deaths is because they were living in Canada when they were murdered.

A glimpse into their desperately unhappy lives was provided by the private diary of Rona, translated for the murder trial. After Rona proved infertile, her husband Shafia took a second wife into a polygamous marriage. Life became miserable for Rona, and she detailed beatings, mistreatment and abuse, by both Shafia and his newer wife.

Achingly, Rona wrote that she ‘spent her days wandering the streets, crying, sitting in her room or using pay phones to call relatives’.

It’s a picture of a desperately lonely woman, surrounded by afflictions, yet so subjected by oppressive views of womanhood that even in her wanderings she returned to the place of pain.

After the murder trial, the lead investigator thanked prosecutors, saying they ‘gave these victims a voice when they had none‘.

It’s disturbing that even in Canada – the ‘progressive’ West – people can be without a voice.

It reminds us that all the laws in the world can’t stop oppression when it is condoned within a community, or held within the heart.

In the end, being a truly free society has less to do with legislation, and more to do with virtue.

It’s through living with virtue that we can “give justice to the poor and the orphan, and uphold the rights of the oppressed and the destitute”.

Virtue can never be mandated, but it can be encouraged, so may we encourage it often, and live it always.


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