University of Toronto professor testifies on “honor killing” at Shafia trial

The Globe and Mail – December 6, 2011

According to Shahrzad Mojab, an Iranian-born University of Toronto professor of women’s studies who has lectured and written on the topic for many years, so-called “honour killings” are rooted in an ancient patriarchal need to control women’s sexuality, and sometimes immigrants from regions that embrace such a code cherish it more dearly than those who stay home. It is wrong to blame religion, Dr. Mojab testified, because honour killings predate all the great faiths. Worldwide, honour killings are on the rise, Dr. Mojab testified, but in North America they remain extremely rare. In 1989-2008, just 13 were identified in a 2009 article in the Middle East Quarterly cited by defence lawyer Patrick McCann, and only two took place in Canada.

Dr. Mojab was the final prosecution witness in the murder trial of Afghan-Canadian businessman Mohammad Shafia, 58, his second wife, Tooba Mohammad Yahya, 41, and their son Hamed, who turns 21 this month. The defence will soon begin its case and in a highly unusual move, its first witness is expected to be Mohammad Shafia.