Tag Archives: Rona

Relativism: Cultural or Ethical….

In the recent days, much of Canada’s newspapers has been engrossed in the Shafia trials. In this trial Mr Shafia (a wealthy Afghan Canadian Business man), Tooba Yahya (his second wife) and their son Hamed was accused and found guilty of killing four family members. They were Shafia’s first wife Rona (who was childless), and three of Shafia and  Tooba’s daughters. They were killed because they did not want to follow the traditional Afghan way of life, had boyfriends and wore western clothes. There killings were labeled as ‘honor killing’ by the prosecutors and the media. The prosecutors brought in cultural experts who supported that claim.Shafia was caught on tape berating his daughters as they had brought shame on the family. The only way to rectify the situation was to kill them. 

I was talking to hubby about this and he told me that my views were too western. He said different places and cultures have different norms, and we should respect that. He said what they could do in Afghanistan doesn’t mean that they should do it in Canada. After talking to him for a while, I explained that I was a cultural relativist but not an ethical relativist.  I understand that cultures have different morals and standards, but I cannot fathom having different ethical standard.

A crime is a crime no matter who commits it and where it is committed.  If a crime is a crime, then why don’t we have universal standards for justice? Are standards of justice and reconciliation different around the world? I guess they are….of course they are. But why? Why can we not agree to standard way of finding justice? Or should we allow cultures to have their own freedom of creating their own notions of justice?  If that’s the case,how do we stop “honor killings” from happening?