Father and son murdered daughters Zainab Shafia, Sahar Shafia and Geeti Shafia for honour
MOHAMMED Shafia, 58, his second wife Tooba Yahya, 42, and their son Hamed, 21, drowned Shafia’s first wife Rona Amir Mohammad, 52, and their daughters Zainab Shafia, Sahar Shafia and Geeti Shafia. They did it for honour. The killers decreed that the three teenaged girls had dishonoured the family by having non-Muslism boyfriend and wearing short skirts.
Rona Amir Mohammad, 52, was Mr Shafia’s first wife. He was married to her and Toobay Yahya. They loved together. Since polygamy is outlawed, they had to lie about the status of Rona Mohammad.
The family arrived in Canada under Quebec’s “immigrant investor” program — investors put up a chunk of cash interest-free in exchange for permanent residency.
At Ontario Superior Court, Canada, Judge Robert Maranger said the case was seeped in a “twisted concept of honour”:
“It is difficult to conceive of a more heinous, more despicable, more honourless crime. The apparent reason behind these cold-blooded, shameful murders was that the four completely innocent victims offended your completely twisted concept of honour … that has absolutely no place in any civilised society.”
Canadian Justice Minister Rob Nicholson called honour killing “barbaric and unacceptable..in Canada”.
Only in Canada? He’s making a distinction. Why?
The killers were not brazen. They intended to make the murder look like accidents. The four women’s bodies were found on June 30 2009, in a car submerged in a canal in Kingston, Ontario. The family has stopped on the way from Montreal to Niagara Falls. They argued that the women had died when their car ran into the water. This was a lie. They wer ealready dead, drowned elsehwer.
Shafia said: “We are not criminal, we are not murderers, we didn’t commit the murder and this is unjust.”
Tooba said: “I am not a murderer, and I am a mother, a mother.”
Hamed said: “I did not drown my sisters anywhere.”
Police tapped the Shafia home. They heard Mr Shafia calling his dead daughters whores and invoking the Devil to shit on their graves.
“Even if they hoist me up on to the gallows … nothing is more dear to me than my honour.”
The family are not native Canadians. They left Afghanistan in 1992 and lived in Pakistan, Australia and Dubai before settling in Canada in 2007.
This has nothing to do with culture or religion. This has everything to do with violent misogyny and murder.
Hasibullah Fazel, is an administrator with Maison Afghan-Canadienne, which offer support to new arrivals.
In the spring of 2009, Mr. Hyderi learned that Zainab was to marry her boyfriend, who was not an Afghan. After talking to Zainab, he could sense the marriage was a desperate move to escape her father’s control. He spoke to Yahya and offered to intervene with Shafia, who was away on business in Dubai, to make Zainab’s life easier.
Yahya insisted that he butt out: “She said, ‘You don’t know Shafia. He’s very mean. He’s very selfish, and I’m afraid he’s going to come home from Dubai, and he’s going to hit her, or he’s going to make Hamed kill her.’ I said, ‘Tooba, what are you talking about. No father would do that.’ ”
The marriage to the boyfriend was annulled after one day, and another plan was hatched for Zainab to marry Mr. Hyderi’s younger brother. But before that could happen, the Shafias set off on a summer road trip.
Crown attorney Gerard Laarhui:
“This jury found that four strong, vivacious and freedom-loving women were murdered by their own family in the most troubling of circumstances. We all think of these four, wonderful women now who died needless deaths. This verdict sends a very clear message about our Canadian values and the core principles in a free and democratic society that all Canadians enjoy and even visitors to Canada enjoy.”
Alia Hogben, executive director of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women:
“I’m frustrated and fed up with the kind of emphasis and time that’s been spent calling it an honour killing. Almost from the beginning, the drowning deaths of Zainab, Sahar and Geeti Shafia, along with Mohammad Shafia’s first wife, Rona Amir Mohammad, were intertwined with themes of family honour, religion, and cultural norms — something Hogben believes detracted from the fact that “this was murder. Murder, murder, murder. The media attention in particular has been very much on this being something exotic, something foreign, as opposed to the fact that this was the murder of four women in Canada,” she said. “I think it was because that separated us from them. People want to believe it’s other people doing this. Canadians don’t do this.”
Saleha Khan, of The Family Honour Project, launched by the Muslim Resource Centre for Social Support and Integration in London, Ont.:.
“It’s really turned into an us vs. them. It’s basically created that kind of divide where…now, because of the kind of savagery that’s been painted on that, people who possibly would be victimized won’t come forward.”
“These women were aware of the threat on their lives and they reached out but nobody listened,” said Dr. Mojab, a University of Toronto professor and editor ofViolence in the Name of Honour: Theoretical and Political Challengeswho was an expert witness at the months-long trial.
She testified that honour killings, while falling under the umbrella of violence against women, must be treated with special care by communities.
They’re about patriarchal control that goes beyond typical parent-teenager disagreements, she said, and police, social workers and teachers must recognize signs of this kind of abuse.
Western-style domestic violence and even domestically violent femicide is not the same as an honor killing.
For example, Westerners rarely kill their young daughters nor do Western families of origin conspire or collaborate in such murders. While Sikhs, and Hindus, (mainly in India), do commit honor killings, the majority of such murders in the West (91%) are Muslim-on-Muslim crimes.
The high-profile Shafia case may be a watershed decision in terms of Canada’s long standing Multiculturalism Policy which was passed in 1971 under Prime Minister Trudeau and legally enshrined in 1988 as the Canadian Multiculturalism Act.
Consider what Montreal Police Detective Laurie-Ann Lefebvre, who with a partner investigated the 911 call some of the children had a stranger make on their behalf the day Zainab ran away, had to say about Sahar.
Det. Lefebvre was a child-abuse investigator. She interviewed the children, and one of Sahar’s chief complaints was a lack of freedom.
Prosecutor Lacelle asked her, “How did Sahar appear?” and Det. Lefebvre replied, “Well, I was surprised. She said she had no freedom, but she was well-dressed, wore jewelry, had nice makeup. She did not seem depressed.”
And the detective told Sahar that: “I said, ‘no freedom?’. I said, ‘You’re well-dressed, have nice makeup.’”
Let that be a lesson for Canadian police, women’s rights activists, social workers and the like: The oppression of girls and women wears different faces, and some of them are beautiful, not battered, and some of them are beautifully made up. Birds in gilded cages are still in cages.
Meanwhile, in Pakistan…