Father Sentenced to 5 Years for "Attempted Honour Killing"
By Arthur Weinreb
Published Nov 24, 2010
Selvanyagam Selladurai intentionally ran down his daughter and her boyfriend with his van because the boyfriend's lower caste brought shame to the family.
On Nov. 23, 2010, Ontario Supreme Court of Justice Judge John McMahon sentenced Selvanyagan Selladurai, 46, to five years in prison. Selladurai was originally charged with three counts of attempted murder but pleaded guilty to three counts of aggravated assault on Oct. 7, 2010.
Salladurai Attacked Daughter, Her Boyfriend and Son-in-Law
Selladurai was unhappy about his 16-year-old daughter’s relationship with her 17-year-old boyfriend. On June 1, 2007, another daughter told her father where her sister was. Selladurai drove to the area and found his daughter along with her boyfriend and brother-in-law at a strip mall. The group was standing together when Selladurai aimed his minivan at them, intentionally striking the three. They were dragged several meters until the car crashed into a fence.
Selladurai then chased the boyfriend, Pram Anadarajah, screaming that he was going to kill him. A teacher from a nearby school managed to restrain Selladurai until police arrived.
Daughter Anitha suffered head and other injuries and was hospitalized for three weeks. Her brother-in-law sustained serious pelvic injuries and now walks aided by a cane. The boyfriend escaped with just a sprained ankle.
Prosecution Labeled Acts “Attempted Honour Killings”
Selladurai, who came to Canada from Sri Lanka, was upset about his daughter’s relationship with her boyfriend. Although he later said he was afraid Pram was a terrorist and in a criminal gang, he initially told psychiatrists that he objected to his daughter’s boyfriend because he came from a lower caste in Sri Lanka and this brought shame to the family.
In sentencing Selladurai, Justice McMahon stated, “cultural differences can never be used as an excuse to justify criminal acts in Canada.” “The court cannot condone people resorting to violent criminal actions against family members because it would bring shame to the family.”
In arriving at the five year sentence, McMahon took into account that Selladurai had suffered from depression since a year before the attack and was on medication when he aimed his van at his relatives.
Honour Crimes in Canada
According to the United Nations, approximately 5,000 women and girls lose their lives each year because of honour killings. They are murdered because they do or are perceived to do things that bring shame on their families.
It has been estimated that there have been at least 12 honour killings in Canada between 1999 and 2009. Some members of communities in which these killings take place deny there is such a thing as honour killings, preferring to label them as simply domestic violence. But psychiatrist Amin Muhammed, of Newfoundland’ Memorial University disagrees.
Quoted in the National Post, Dr. Muhammed said, “Honour killing is there. We should acknowledge it and Canada should take it seriously.”
The Killing of Asqa Parvez
The most publicized honour killing in Canada was that of 16-year-old Asqa Parvez. On Dec. 10, 2007, Asqa was picked up by her brother and told her father wanted to see her. Shortly after arriving home a call was made to 911, advising she was dead. She had been strangled.
Asqa’s family felt shame because their daughter was becoming too westernized. She refused to wear the hijab, wanted to get a part time job and wanted to engage in activities that her friends from school took part in, such as hanging out at the mall.
Her father, Muhammad was charged with second degree murder and her brother Waqas with obstruction of justice. Wasqas was later charged with first degree murder.
In June 2010, both men pleaded guilty to second degree murder and were sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole for 18 years.
Reactions of the Families to Honour Crimes and Killings
Asqa Parvez’ mother blamed her daughter for bringing on her death. Although she believed the father and brother went too far in upholding the family’s honour, it was Asqa’s fault; she should have listened.
Members of Selledurai’s family tried to get the prosecution to drop the charges against Selvanyagam, although he deliberately aimed his car at three people. As well, the family was reluctant to provide victim impact statements to the court.
After pretrial custody was taken into account, Selladurai will serve a sentence of four years and one month.