Amy Smithers and Katie Rook, National Post (Toronto), December 11, 2007
The 16-year-old Mississauga girl who was allegedly strangled by her father in a dispute over her refusal to wear the hijab has died.
Aqsa Parvez, a Grade 11 student at Applewood Heights, succumbed to her injuries late last night, Peel Regional Police said today.
The girl’s 57-year-old father, Muhammad Parvez, has been charged with muder. Aqsa’s 26-year-old brother, Waqas Parvez, has been charged with obstructing police.
Friends believe Aqsa was the victim of a dispute over the teenager’s desire to be more western.
“She wanted to live her life the way she wanted to, not the way her parents wanted her to,” classmate Krista Garbhet told the Post this morning.
“She just wanted to be herself, honestly she just wanted to show her beauty, and not be pushed around by her parents telling her what she has to be like, what she has to do. Nobody would want to do that.”
An announcement broadcast at the school, near Bloor Street and Cawthra Road this morning, confirmed Aqsa’s death.
School officials described her as an energetic, well-liked student.
“Peel Police are investigating Aqsa’s death. It’s natural to want answers about why this tragedy occurred, but we really don’t have any of those answers yet. So it’s important to avoid speculation or rumours. If you do have first-hand information that you think is relevant to this case, you can speak with one of the teachers or counsellors, or with office staff,” one school official told students.
A memorial with a photograph of Aqsa and book of dedication was set up in the school’s main foyer.
Grief counsellors are available to support shocked classmates. A flag outside the school has been lowered in memory of the girl.
A 16-year-old girl is in critical condition after being choked by a man believed to be her father, apparently after a dispute with her family over her refusal to wear the hijab, the Islamic headscarf worn by some Muslim women.
Peel Regional Police arrested a 57-year-old man yesterday morning after receiving a 911 call from a suburban home in Mississauga from a man saying he had killed his daughter. When police and paramedics arrived at the house they found a 16-year-old lying on the floor without any vital signs, police said.
Constable J.P. Valade, a spokesman for Peel police, would not release the names of either the victim or the man arrested and would not give any details about what transpired inside the large, two-storey home in a well-to-do subdivision.
“We are not getting into the details of her injuries at this time,” he said. “We aren’t getting into any details about this case. This investigation is really in its infancy: officers are still canvassing the neighbourhood and talking to family members.”
However, early police reports indicated the teenager had been choked and that the attacker was her father.
The girl was rushed to Credit Valley Hospital and later transferred to the Hospital for Sick Children, where she was listed in critical condition last night with life-threatening injuries.
Her condition is so grave that police have not yet charged the man arrested at the scene until they know whether he will be charged with murder or attempted murder. He was scheduled to appear in Brampton court on Tuesday.
Friends of the teenager, a Grade 11 student at nearby Applewood Heights high school, identified her as Aqsa Parvez and said they were shocked by the attack on the outgoing, likeable girl, but said she had been threatened by her strictly religious family before.
“She got threatened by her father and her brother,” said Dominiquia Holmes-Thompson, who had known Aqsa since they both started high school together. “He said that if she leaves, he would kill her.”
Ebonie Mitchell, 16, another friend of the victim, said the conflict with her father over wearing Islamic dress came to a head at the beginning of this school year. “She just wanted to dress like we do,” she said.
“Last year she wore like the Islamic stuff and everything, the hijab, and this year she’s all Western. She just wanted to look like everyone else. And I guess her dad had a problem with that.”
Ebonie said her friend had left home once before, in September, for about two weeks. She returned home, but the fights with her family over what she wore just got worse.
Dominiquia, 16, said her friend had been arguing with her father for more than a year over the restrictions he imposed on her, including demanding that she wear the hijab at all times. “She wanted to go out with her friends, hang out and just be like a normal person,” she said. “But he was always trying to control her . . . he wouldn’t let her go out or do anything.”
The stricken girl’s friends said the fights with her father got so bad that she had left the family home to live with friends about a week ago. “She was going back, but just to get her stuff,” said friend Krista Garbutt. “She was scared to go home, but she had to get her clothes and stuff.”
Neighbours said as many as 11 people lived in the home, which was sealed off by crime scene tape and surrounded by police cars yesterday, all members of an extended Pakistani family. Const. Valade confirmed that there were other people in the home when the teenager was attacked.
“I didn’t really know any of them,” said one woman, who would not give her name. “There were a lot of them living in that house, always coming and going. They didn’t talk to me, maybe just to say hello once in a while. That’s all.”
The home where the teen was attacked is the listed address of Muhammad Parvez, a Mississauga cab driver. “He was Muslim and very devout, very observant,” said one of his fellow drivers at Mississauga’s Blue and White Taxi, who did not want his name used. “He was always stopping to take breaks and pray: three, four times a day.”
His eldest son, also named Muhammad, also worked as a cab driver and lived in the family home with his wife and at least one child, the driver said. Several people inside the home were questioned by police before being allowed to leave.
Neighbours said the family moved in just over a year ago.