Four years ago in 2012, a British girl, Amina Al-Jeffery, was taken out of the UK, from her home in Swansea, and locked up in the country of her father’s birth, Saudi Arabia. Amina has been locked up for daring to become ‘Westernised’ for ruining the family honour and bringing shame on the family name. For the last four years that she has been forced to live in Saudi Arabia none of us had even heard of her. I hadn’t. Can you honestly say you had heard of her plight to return to Britain, to her home? Thanks to social media and the power of Twitter her plight has been heard and the High Courts have ruled that ‘the girl in the cage’ be returned to the UK by the 11th of September. Why not immediately? Four years is a long time to be imprisoned by her father, why have the courts not demanded she be released immediately?
Yasmin Khan, Director of the Halo Project, a national charity dedicated to helping the victims of forced marriage, honour based violence and female genital mutilation and the many issues that arise from these crimes, including kidnap, spoke about the case on BBC Live 5, on 3rd August 2016. Yasmin discussed the failures of safeguarding agencies in protecting the victims, the importance of safeguarding agencies working closely together to ensure the safety of victims. That we even have a case where there is a British girl, locked in a cage in Saudi Arabia is shocking.
Cases of honour crime are hugely under reported, Yasmin goes on to say, parents who are guilty of killing their child in the name of honour are never going to report the child missing are they?
If it hadn’t been for social media and Amina’s plea for help we would never have heard of her, she had friends she relied on to get her story out there. How many more Amina’s are out there, no one to tell their story.
Yasmin is spot on when she states that it should never have been allowed to get to this stage. This stage means that we have failed those we should have been protecting. It is important to take risks seriously and not ignore cries for help because you are scared of being labelled something. Helping and supporting girls and women live a life free of violence and honour killing only shows that you are a decent human being, there is nothing racist in empowering young girls and women.
I hope that Amina’s father does the right thing and returns her to home, in Swansea. I hope he is shamed by how much support his daughter is receiving, and sets her free. Sadly men’s actions are never deemed shameful nor is the burden of ‘honour’ placed on them. Amina’s father believes his daughter needs to stay locked up; no High Court hearing can make him change his mind. The British laws where his daughter was born matter not the laws in the land of his birth.
If the father held his beliefs in his actions and not in his mind, then he should respect the over-riding fact that Islamic law must be overseen by the law of the land and in this case UK Law should be implemented.