When I think about the complex layers of Shamima Begum’s case, it sickens me that it, and she, is becoming the butt of a national joke. Yes, she was part of a terrorist organisation, her beliefs go against what we, as a country, intend to stand for, she does not seem to be % remorseful, and she abandoned her family and her country to join ISIS. These are all, absolutely, unforgivable offences, but there is so much more at stake here; a 15-year-old girl was groomed, convinced to leave her family behind to become an ‘ISIS Bride’ – or, to put it how it would have been put were Shamima white, a groomed child bride – and the woman that girl has become, has been stripped of her citizenship.
Her case has sparked national outrage that she should be even considered to be allowed back into the UK, with her son, whom many people are pointing out is a child of terrorists. However, I am outraged that the Home Secretary has decided to outright deny the child of a British citizen, any hope or chance, outside the life of terrorism and exile. By no means should someone who fled the country to join terrorists, who appears not to feel remorse for this action, be welcomed back to a normal life with open arms. But a British citizen has the right to be judged by British law. Not allowing her to be put to justice in the UK does nobody any good; it means she does not get punished for her actions, it means her child is not given the chance to grow up in a safe and stable home, and it quite frankly causes a ripple effect of national racism.
More often than not, the victims of grooming and abuse become brain-washed to truly believe the ideas they are convinced to believe. Perhaps Begum would have chosen ISIS no matter what, at any age, but a woman cannot be exiled from her country, cannot be publicly slammed, for the actions she made when she was a 15-year-old girl being abused. She should be brought back to the UK, she should stand trial here, she should face the UK justice system, and her son – no matter who his parents are – should be given the chance to live a normal life. Nobody saying these things is defending her actions, nobody is saying she shouldn’t be taking any responsibility whatsoever for the fact that she still sees no wrong in her joining ISIS, we are saying that her home country should have some compassion for consequences of childhood abuse, childhood exposure to racism, and a potential societal neglect that led to a young girl being convinced that leaving her home and marrying a terrorist before the age of 16.
Shamima Begum is not innocent, nor is she excusable, by anyone’s standards. But she is a British citizen, and it is quite frankly terrifying that the government have immediately stripped her entirely of her citizenship, leaving her and her genuinely innocent child, nationless. And we, watching this unfold from our comfortable sofas, should not be laughing at the fact that a child is now going to be raised without a home, or a moral compass.