The Guilty Plea

On Dec 10, 2007 Muhammad Parvez called the police to say that he had strangled his daughter. Recently Mhanmmad Parvez and his youngest son Waqas Parvez pleaded guilty to the murder of his youngest daughter Aqsa Parvez, who was 16 at the time of her death. Aqsa Parvez was a high-school student in Mississauga, Ontario, who displeased her father because she wanted to shed the traditional customs her family adhered to. The guilty plea of second-degree murder earns each of the two men a 25-year sentence.

The Parvez Family Background

In 1999 Muhammad Parvez and his eldest son Waqas left Pakistan and entered Canada as refugees. In 2001, Muhammad Parvez’ wife Anwar Jan immigrated to Canada with the other seven children. They adhered to their traditional customs. All the women wore their traditional clothes and none of them took on jobs outside the home. The five siblings  who were married underwent arranged marriages to their cousins in Pakistan, who subsequently immigrated to Canada. On the day of the murder, all but two of the sibling were in the house.

Events Leading To The Killing of Aqsa Parvez

Aqsa Parvez wanted to wear western-style clothes, to take on part-time jobs, and to hang out with her friends, and she had refused an arranged marriage. Aqsa Parvez spoke to her school counselors about her problems at home and her fears of being killed by her father. Several times the school arranged for meetings between father and daughter. Initially Muhammad Parvez had refused to allow Aqsa Parvez to stop wearing the hijab, but eventually agreed to her request not to wear it in school. However, conflicts continued, and Asqa Parvez left home twice, once to stay at a shelter found for her by the school, and another time at a friend’s home. Two days before Aqsa Parvez was killed, she went to a movie. On the day of her death, when Aqsa Parvez was going to school from the friend’s home at which she was staying, Waqas Parvez picked her up in a van and brought her home. Aqsa Parvez was killed soon after arriving home. After Muhammad Parvez called the police, Aqsa Parvez was brought to hospital, but died despite attempts to resuscitate her. An autopsy showed cause of death to be “neck compression”.

 Reason For The Killing of Aqsa Parvez

Aqsa Parvez’s rebellious nature put family honor at stake. Anwar Jan said that when she asked her husband why he killed Aqsa Parvez (instead of just breaking her legs as she had expected), Muhammad Parvez’s reply was, “This is my insult. My community will say you have not been able to control your daughter. This is my insult. She is making me naked”.

Waqas Parvez’s Arrest

At the time of the murder Waqas Parvez claimed to be away from home, but he was charged with obstructing police because of evidence from witnesses that he had picked Aqsa Parvez up to bring her home. Six months later Waqas Parvez was arrested because of evidence from a colleague Steve Warda, who had told police that a few days before the killing Waqas Parvez had asked him how to get a gun, which he intended to use to kill his sister. Steve Warda agreed to secretly tape later conversations with Waqas Parvez  for the police, and in these conversations Waqas Parvez spoke of how only he and his father were involved in the murder, but that the family knew what was going on.

The Community’s Reaction To The Case

The widespread attention that this case has attracted in Canada has been said by observers to cast a spotlight on generational strains in families adapting to a new culture. Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said that killing a member of one’s family for cultural reasons is a particularly pernicious form of murder, which is why “we have been explicit in condemning what we call barbaric cultural practices such as honor killing”.

Muslim Canadian Congress founder Tarek Fatah said that the guilty plea is a wake-up call for parents to understand that young women are not the possessions of man. He added that Muslim leaders who do not call Aqsa Parvez’s murder an honor killing are avoiding the real issue.

Think About It

Can a traditional custom such as honor killing be tolerated? Will those who condemn it be accused of racial discrimination? What about those who do not condemn it? Are they guilty of anything, especially if they are the leaders of the communities that practice such customs?

Previous posts

The Horrors Of Honor Killing
What Honor Is Saved In Honor Killings?
Brutality Of Honor Killing Of British-Pakistani Family
Germany: Another Honor Killing Case
UK – Father Kills Daughter In Muslim Honor Killing

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