She wanted to be like any other teenage girl.
Aqsa Parvez, 16, who died Monday night after being attacked in her Mississauga home, wanted to hang out with friends instead of obeying her 5 p.m. curfew. She wanted to listen to rap, hip hop and R & B, which her parents didn't permit.
Vivacious and outgoing, Parvez wanted to dress like a Western woman in tight-fitting clothes and show off her long, dark hair by removing her hijab.
She wanted to be "free" and independent of her family's devout Muslim beliefs.
But that was a problem.
This culture clash, her friends said yesterday, led to abuse. While she didn't often come to school with bruises, she said she had been hit on the arms and across the face, her friends said, and that her parents kept her under strict guard.
"She told me many times that her dad had threatened her," her friend, Dominiqua Holmes-Thompson, 16, said yesterday. "She was serious."
Muhammad Parvez, 57, is to appear in a Brampton court today, accused of killing his daughter, the youngest of eight children. Peel homicide detectives haven't revealed whether the driver for the Blue & White Taxi company would be charged with first- or second-degree murder.
The victim's brother, Waqas Parvez, 26, who was arrested on a charge of obstructing police, appeared briefly in court yesterday and was remanded in custody.
Aqsa Parvez struggled academically but was focused on doing better, said Peel District School Board officials. She didn't cry or let her feelings show in daily life but wasn't shy when it came to talking to friends about her troubles.
"She would tell us how her dad would always yell at her and how he wanted her to be someone else," said Natalie Rance, 14.
"Her dad wanted her to be a person who followed the religion. But she wanted to follow her own rules, wear her own clothes. But her dad wouldn't let her do that."
Friends of the teen huddled outside Applewood Heights Secondary School yesterday morning, crying, embracing and trying to come to terms with a death they called shocking.
Early yesterday, school officials told students about the tragedy then set up a book of condolences on a velvet-covered memorial table strewn with flowers and pictures of the slain teen. Grief counsellors were on hand.
The flag at the school, located on Bloor St. at Tomken Rd. in Mississauga, was at half-mast yesterday and would continue that way until her funeral, yet to be arranged, school officials said.
The Grade 11 student clung to life for several hours on life support in a Toronto hospital, after a man called 911 around 7:55 a.m. Monday, telling emergency officials he just killed his daughter.
Peel police refuse to disclose how Parvez, who was found barely alive in her bedroom, died. One source said she was strangled, another said she was beaten.
Holmes-Thompson said the last time she spoke to her friend was around 8 p.m. Sunday and Parvez ended the conversation by saying "I love you."
Friends of the slain girl said Parvez's brother picked her up Monday morning from a bus stop, where she was waiting to go to school, and told her she'd better come home to get a change of clothes.
Parvez, who was staying temporarily at a friend's house, left home about two weeks earlier, when her domestic situation escalated – for the second time in three months.
In September, friends said, Parvez, whose family immigrated to Canada from Pakistan, started to take off her hijab on the bus en route to school and put it back on in the afternoons. She felt liberated to reveal her hair this year because an older sister who would spy on her at school and tell their father if she misbehaved had graduated from Applewood in the spring.
When Parvez's home life turned violent this fall, she fled to a shelter, returning home only after receiving a letter from her family. It described how her parents couldn't eat or sleep while she was away and allegedly noted she didn't have to wear her hijab any more if she didn't want to.
Wendy Horton, executive director of Etobicoke's Youth Without Shelter, said that while she's shocked by the level of violence in this situation, she isn't surprised by its root cause. Parents who want their children to remain faithful to old world ways are often at odds with kids growing up in Western society.
"It creates a lot of family tension," Horton said. "And youth finally end up staying with their friends."
After a few weeks at home, Parvez's situation turned dangerous once again and friends helped her find another place to stay earlier this month.
A Peel school board spokesperson said school staff had been aware of conflicts within the family but nobody had any inkling the troubles would lead to a deadly end.
Board spokesperson Sylvia Link said something would have been done if anybody knew the teen had been threatened or had reason to believe she was in any danger.
"That's part of what grief counsellors are helping students and staff deal with — a sense of incredible guilt, that somehow they let her down," she said. "Counsellors are telling them the person responsible for this violent crime is the person who committed this violence.
"Anything they did was based on their understanding of the situation.
``There's nothing more important to a teacher than the safety of their students."
Parvez, who loved to dance and snap pictures of herself, will be sorely missed, her friends said.
"She wanted to show her beauty but her dad wouldn't let her," Rance said, before breaking down. "I can't believe it. I'm so sad."
Dec 12, 2007 04:30 AM
staff reporters Toronto Star
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