Tuesday, June 4, 2013


The high increase in the rate of crime and disorder in the society are a result of the failures of the classical sociological theory to effectively deal with the various public ills and private troubles that had characterized the livelihood of the various groups of people. It is however imperative to note that crime is multi-dimensional, complex and a highly mutative phenomenon which has brought problems to the thoughts held by criminologists (McLaughlin & Newburn, 2010). Crime can thus be considered a product of the people’s social interactions. The paper will analyze the issue that was contained in The Canadian Press. The article “Guilty: jury convicts all 3 in Shafia murders” which was written by Allison Jones (Jones, 2012). The people who committed the crime were members of one family who immigrated into Canada in 2007 from Afghanistan. The four members of the family were allegedly murdered during the Niagara Falls trip due to the notion that they had brought dishonor to the patriarchal family by not protecting their sexuality and also by portraying uncontrolled behavior. To protect their family honor, they went to extremes and ended up killing their three daughters as well as a step wife. The analysis will answer a variety of questions; the theory of crime being drawn upon, how the criminals are portrayed, and finally, theories regarding how humans are regarded in the society. The crimes that were committed by the Shafia family can effectively be explained by the sub cultural theories which view crime as none innate and is usually a result of the people’s interactions with each other (SOC305 January 17, 12). This is because the crimes which the members of the Shafia household were tried and incarcerated for were mostly contributed to by the fact that the interactions between the patriarchal head of the family, the son and the mother had produced desired beliefs and values which they brought with them from the Afghanistan, which is mostly a patriarchal society. The violence against the girls in the family, who were not seen to be following the values and the aspirations, was thus reasonably expected. The sub culture which the family brought with them was very unique and distinct from that of the Canadian society where democracy and the free will of the different people are accepted. The people who committed the crimes were motivated by their values thus according to the sub culture theory the rationalization of the crimes was the mores, norms and the values that the family members held. The son highly conformed to the sub culture that was predominant in their family and thus was rewarded with a high self esteem as he was always left at the helm of the family discipline in all the instances when Shafia was on business trips to Dubai. The crime also fitted the commonly held assumption that there will be a high probability of the people who were in the same social situation to identify with each other and thereby bond. The three ladies, who were pursuing their personal freedoms, were treated as outcasts in the family and thus when the opportunity arose, they were systematically exterminated by the three members of the family that shared the patriarchal values and the beliefs and mores regarding the family honor. The family murders also had a strong rationalization which was meant to minimize the level of guilt that could have been suffered by the family members who were engaged in the killing. The Judge who was presiding over the case indicated clearly that honor killing was not acceptable. It can be deduced that the Shafias’ rationalization of the killing was to bring back honor to their family and thus there was no level of remorse on their part as they had effectively achieved the goal that they were working towards. The crime that was committed by the Shafia family members against the other members of the family can be useful in understanding the various forms of human nature. Merton (1938) noted that it is the original nature of humans not to conform to the various rules that the society has imposed on the people for instance the three Shafia daughters were killed due to the need that they had for freedom. However, the three members of the family who were convicted for the murder were all conformists to the ideals of their society. They all had the misplaced notion that the women were not to engage in any form of relationship that was not vetted by the patriarch, their dad. This was greatly unreasonable as human nature allows free choice of whatever a person was to engage in as long as it was legal. The criminals (three members of the Shafia family; mom, dad and son) engaged in the infringement of the codes of the society by murdering as a normal response to the misbehavior and the dishonor that the girls had brought onto the family and were continuing to bring. Secondly, there is also the issue of the different cultural goal, interests and purposes. The goals are highly integrated and thus bring with them some levels of prestige (Merton, 1938). The ladies led to the loss of this prestige that the family was enjoying, as they had their values intact before the various ‘reckless behaviors’ of the three daughters. To achieve the goals and the various interests of the social groups, there had to be controls and regulations which were meant to help in the achievement of the values and the aspirations of the community. Thus Mr. Shafia, acting as the head of the family was tasked with disciplining of the daughters who were going against the values that were held by the family. In his absence, this role was taken by the son. Merton (1938) also went ahead to state that it is human nature to try to win at all costs just as in the case of various sporting events where no one would want to lose. It comes to a point where the various members of the society may not have the appropriate tools to exert the conformity with the values that they believe in. anti-social behavior is therefore formed by the people so that they can be able to achieve the results in any way that is possible including the commission of crimes as was the case of the Shafia family. They had tried all the means that were available to them in their endeavors to reign in on the behavior of the three daughters; until family they came up with the “perfect solution”, the murder. In conclusion, it can be rightfully stated that crime is a product of people’s different social interactions as the crime that was committed by the three members of the Shafia family can rightfully indicate. The three members who committed the crime were bent on protecting the honor of the family and thus used all the means to assert this position. They conspired to trick the other members of the family who did not hold their views to the trip at Niagara Falls, where they all met their death. References Jones, A. (January 29, 2012), Guilty: jury convicts all 3 in Shafia murders, The Canadian Press, [online]Retrieved 01/30/2012 McLaughlin, E. & Newburn, T. (2010), "Introduction: the Sage handbook of criminological theory", In McLaughlin, E. & Newburn, T. (Eds.), The Sage handbook of criminological theory, London, UK: Sage Publications Merton, R. (1938), "Social Structure and Anomie", American Sociological Review, 3(5): 672-682 SOC305 January 17, 12, Durkheim, (Class notes)