Publication of the week: Professor Susan Edwards
1 February 2017
Susan S.M. Edwards, “Cyber-grooming young women for terrorist activity: Dominant and subjugated explanatory narratives”, in E. Viano (ed.), Cybercrime, Organised Crime, and Societal Responses (Springer 2017), pp.23-47. ISBN: 978-3-319-44501-4.
In this chapter, Professor Edwards argues that legislation and governmental strategies such as “Prevent” have failed to appreciate that recruitment of young women to so-called Islamic State and other terrorist groups mainly happens online, through social media over which parents have no control. The women do not come from any distinct sort of family or background, making issues such as their parents’ command of English irrelevant. They have been viewed through an orientalist perspective which has also been used to stereotype whole communities: “either they are vulnerable and victim, or else beyond redemption, especially when they involve their own children”. Motivations such as their perception of western Islamophobia and opposition to interventionist foreign policy have been ignored.
Legislation against trafficking of people into servitude which protects the victims (e.g. the Modern Slavery Act 2015) has so far not been applied to people who are trafficked for a terrorist purpose when they return to the UK. On the other hand, family courts have used protective measures such as care proceedings where minors have been, or were likely to be, taken abroad by their families. Professor Edwards argues that strategies to combat the recruitment of young women should also include protection, and attempts should be made to understand the subjugated narratives which lead to their alienation.
Professor Susan Edwards is a researcher and campaigner and a barrister (Door Tenant, 1 Grays Inn Square, London). She is an expert witness and member of the Expert Witness Institute. She is Dean of Law at Buckingham.