Science has long  recognised  that the brain continues to develop during teenage years and that  different areas grow at their own pace.  Young people’s brains are insufficiently  matured  to make serious, life decisions alone. This means that teens are likely to arrive at conclusions, based on emotion,  (because of their developed limbic system) rather than rationality. Impulsive decisions in emotive responses may have serious implications for life chances and affect others in their families and communities.  Schools and colleges have sophisticated guidance programs , delivered by experienced professionals , which are designed to assist young  learners as they progress through life. Nevertheless, erratic choices will be made by some and, particularly, where they have been exposed to emotional influences.

Shamima Begum, a fifteen year old school girl and a couple of her friends from  Bethnal Green Academy  fled Britain for Syria to join Isis fighters there; Begum, legally and emotionally , was still a child. It is said that she was vulnerable at the time to malevolent influences because she was grieving her mother who had recently died. Now in a refugee camp,  she has just had her third child , having lost two babies to illness during her stay in Syria.  In an interview today, she admitted that it had been her decision to go to Syria, regretted the deaths and injuries to innocent people at the Manchester bombing and in all similar atrocities. 

The ingrained instinct of politicians   is to consider how any comment affects their career prospects  and so Sajid Javid, an ambitious Home Secretary, immediately responded in Daily Mail speak that he would certainly prevent her return to the UK.  There has been some back-tracking on this position since the illegalities of rendering a British citizen stateless  were impressed upon him.

Stones and glass houses are pertinent, it seems. Neither Tony Blair nor his script-writer,  Alastair Campbell , have faced  a whiff of  punishment for their actions in the de-stabilisation of the Middle East and the deaths of  countless civilians across the Region in the    past fifteen years.  In an absurd satire, Blair’s organisation has received millions  in funding  from the blood-soaked Saudis to promote stability there. Blair and Campbell are regularly given airtime on mainstream media to tell us what is wrong in the World. Past lies and deceit are off the agenda in any interviews.

That this young woman has behaved foolishly and recklessly is beyond dispute; she recognises that and accepts  the real possibility of prison on her return but is comforted that there will be those in her family to care for and nurture her newborn son. This  young life has been deeply etched with tragedy and that she has survived is the stuff of ghosts,  dreams and theatre; it is Orpheus and Eurydice , a powerful narrative of a return from horror. 

It is time that maturity  and compassion were  shown to this tragic , young Briton.

  1. The lone voice, but the calm and considered one.

    • Thanks, Maggie. I see it firstly as a humanitarian issue and the political dimension is secondary. The Courts should decide on guilt or innocence.

  2. humane, civilised and decent John – as we always expect from you, and you invariably deliver. The rule of law seems absurdly absent from these current proceedings and that does not augur well for anyone.

    • Thanks, Eva. The Bangladesh aspect is a convenient, if surreal, hook for the Home Office.British politics marches to the anthems of the far Right at the moment, whether it is the strangulated vowel sounds of Rees-Mogg or the populist, barrow-boy ranting of Farage. May is going and Javid fancies his chances at history making.

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