Zainab, Sahar, Geeti and Rona Shafia

Zainab, Sahar, Geeti and Rona Shafia, Canada

Zainab (19), Sahar (17 ) and Geeti Shafia (13) were three sisters in a family of seven siblings who lived in Montreal, Ontario. The family was originally from Afghanistan. The girls’ father Mohammed Shafia had two wives; Rona Mohammed (50) and Tooba Yahya, marrying Tooba after Rona could not have children. Rona had helped in the upbringing of the children and was presented to everyone as the ‘aunt’ of the family.
On June 30th 2009, Zainab, Sahar, Geeti and Rona were found dead inside a car, a black Nissan, discovered underwater in the northernmost Kingston Mills lock of the Rideau Canal in Montreal.  The same day Mohammed Shafia had reported to the police that his three daughters and the purported aunt were missing.

Police had at first believed it was a tragic accident. However, subsequent investigation revealed that the family SUV had met with an accident the same morning in Montreal. After assessing the damage on both vehicles, police theorized that the SUV was used to ram the Nissan into the locks. It was speculated that the murder may have been an honour killing by Mohammed Shafia and Tooba Yahya, with support of their only son Hamed Shafia.

According to a family member’s interview, Rona was trapped in an abusive, loveless marriage, trying in vain to convince her husband to grant her a divorce and also feared for her life. It was reported that the Shafias held all of Rona’s identity documents, including her passport, leading Rona to believe that she could not leave. They also stated that the family’s eldest daughter Zainab’s was in a relationship with a Pakistani boy prompting much anger for her father. Teachers and social workers who had known the girls also said that the girls faced verbal abuse, coercion, pressure, and compulsion at home almost like “political prisoners”. But those who could have intervened failed to do so at the time.

Mohammad, Tooba and Hamed were arrested on July 23, on charges of four counts of first degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder. During the course of the trial, which began in October 2011, prosecutors call up over 58 witnesses. Evidence revealed that google searches had been made on the family computer on “how to commit murders’ and “documentaries of murders” as well as research into waterways.

In January 2012, Mohammed, Tooba and Hamed were each found guilty of four counts of first-degree murder with no chance of parole for 25 years. Christie Blatchford journalist of the Canadian National Post said in an interview that all these girls ever wanted were “ordinary freedoms of the ordinary teenager”.


Four beautiful lives. Taken away by false assumptions of honor, of pride. Oh what is honor and what is pride in the face of innocence and purity? What is honor and pride in the face of truth and justice? Oh but nothing. Honor is nothing if Love is denied.

“All I ever want is to be free, dear sister..” she said

“To love, to live. To be, to breathe.”

“One day” – I replied back … “One day.”



Geeti, Zainab and Sahar Shafia were found dead with their father's first wife, Rona.


Zainab Shafia

Zainab Shafia














Rona Shafia, left and Sahar Shafia









childhood photo

Messages in “Zainab, Sahar, Geeti and Rona Shafia”

  1. Federica says:

    Dear Angels Zainab, Sahar, Geeti and Rona,

    Look at us from the stars above.
    Protect your sisters. Bring love to the hearts of those who know not how to love.
    Grant courage to the sisters and brothers who risk their life to fight for their freedom and the freedom of others.
    And please shed light on why men hate women in all times, in all regions of the earth.
    For those of us who are free, praise to the struggle of the sisters who came before us, who have earned our right to live in freedom.

    In remembrance.

  2. Hilary Gladwyn says:

    You are in my PRAYS!! God Bless all these poor women and the people dedicated to making a change for future ‘MARTYRS’ AMEN!

  3. Olga says:


    You are mourned by thousands
    You would be surprised to know
    How many tears were shed for you
    For what your lives could have been

    Let’s remember you by flowers
    You will be always seen

    Rona in red roses
    Zainab in pink peonies
    Sahar in mauve orchids
    Geeti in white lilies of the valley

    Though it is not a consolation
    For every decent person’s pain

    Your beauty
    Will exist

  4. Alissa says:

    Have followed this story, its such a shame your lives had to come to a sudden end… you are in the thoughts and prayers of many! You may never know how many lives you have touched, but you have touched the lives of many! Your spirits will live on forever and your story will no doubt help the life of someone else… so all this will not have been done for nothing… Rest in peace…. *Zainab*Sahar*Geeti*Rona*

    Gone but never forgotten 🙂

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