The Tragedy of Aqsa Parvez
For the past two days, many of us in Toronto have been following a very tragic story coming out of Mississauga. The story is about a 16 year old girl named Aqsa Parvez, the youngest of eight children, who was murdered in her home Monday night. The tragedy being that she was murdered by her own father, his phone call to police being the chilling admission of his guilt.
Another part of the tragedy was that this incident was not only forseeable but preventable. When the news first broke on the 6pm news Monday night, Aqsa was still fighting for her life but not expected to survive and the reporters were getting impact statements from students and friends of the girl. “I knew this was going to happen,” were just the first words coming from a friend of hers on the news, fighting back tears. The rest of the montage featured clips of other friends of Aqsa’s who were not only aware of abuse she was experiencing at home, but the fact that she had gone to shelters and even moved out to a friend’s house to get away from the abuse. Yet as reported in the Globe & Mail nobody believed her when she told them how dangerous her family could be.
In the days since, there have been many responses to her death, those citing the conflict between old and new world ideology, the stress of immigration and the question over the choice of the hijab. But another thing that has been coming up in the new stories is the role of the siblings in this family. Aqsa’s brother was arrested for obstructing police, one can only assume in relation to the response unit sent to their house after the initial 911 call. Not only that, but the Toronto Star reports about how Aqsa began dressing more casual as her older sister who used to ‘snitch’ on her changes of clothes, had recently graduated, leaving her more freedom to dress as she pleased. This wasn’t merely a struggle of a girl against a disapproving father figure, a male patriarch wanting her to wear a hijab, it was a more complex family drama wherein she, the youngest, was suffering from the control of even her older siblings.
I’m shocked that with that much pressure she had the singlemindedness to head to a shelter initially at all, many teens in the same situation would just give in. I’m saddened that she returned home only to lose her life. The Globe & Mail reports that she only returned home to retrieve some belongings from her home, but trusting her parents enough that they wouldn’t detain her. The mistake of believing in the security of her family, believing that they had her best interests at heart. That breaks my heart the most, that the only thing she did wrong was to believe her family when they said whatever it was that made her think it was safe for her to come back alone to that abusive environment.
As I said, this tragedy was preventable, but nobody can blame a 16 year old girl for wanting to trust her family would want to love her and just keep her safe.
(Editor’s note, this has been documented in the EXTREMELY IMPORTANT documentary In the Name of the Family, which I suggest everybody watch, right now.)