The Children Deemed Worthy of Justice in the UK

Featured Illustration: Nasiha

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On Thursday, 3rd May 2007, Madeleine McCann, a three-year-old girl from Leicester, disappeared from her holiday home in the Algarve region of Portugal. Her peculiar disappearance immediately caused distress and outrage within Portugal and the United Kingdom. Guests at the resort in Praia da Luz even said that they could hear people calling Madeleine’s name from one end of Luz to the other. From people accusing Madeleine’s parents for the disappearance to a multitude of false leads, the McCann disappearance has become one of the most mysterious and controversial cases in the history of the United Kingdom.

Thirteen years later, and Madeleine’s case is still as prominent in the media as it was in 2007. After years of searching and making little to no progress, the Metropolitan Police launched a probe called Operation Grange and £11.75 million has been spent on the investigation so far by UK authorities. Madeleine’s family has been greatly supported through the years, not only by the authorities but also by celebrities such as Simon Cowell and J.K. Rowling, who donated large amounts of money to help fund the search for Madeleine.

Alternatively, on Thursday, 27th June 2019, Shukri Abdi, a refugee from Somalia who moved to Manchester in 2017, was killed by her racist classmates. Shukri had not returned home at the time that she usually does, so her mother, Zam Zam Ture, began searching for her daughter. Her search began at 4 p.m. and she was informed by the Greater Manchester Police (GMP) at 1 a.m. on Friday, 28th June 2019, that her daughter had died in a “tragic incident”. However, Shukri’s death was a murder, despite the initial claims from the GMP — hours after the discovery of Shukri’s body, they claimed they didn’t believe there was anything suspicious about her death.

Shukri was with children who tormented her for a year solely because she was a refugee at the time of her death. These children bullied her relentlessly, followed her home and threw stones at her, and pushed her into ongoing traffic a week before they left her to drown in the River Irwell. The children who murdered Shukri threatened to kill her if she didn’t get into the river with them, knowing she had a fear of water.

Moreover, the GMP showed no sympathy or comfort when speaking to Ms. Ture and they tried to convince her that Shukri had drowned whilst she was swimming in the river. However, Shukri’s fear of water was well known, and if this was the case, then her body should not have been covered in bite marks. Similarly, Broad Oak High School, the school that Shukri attended, did not support her family and they stated that they had no idea Shukri was being bullied, despite her mother making multiple complaints about it. I’m sure the majority of us have been through similar bullying incidents where we are told to stop “telling tales” — this is essentially what Shukri’s mother was told. Furthermore, the school changed their uniform and their name to ‘Hazel Wood High School’ in an attempt to disassociate themselves with Shukri’s murder.

The difference in support from the British government and police force for Madeleine McCann and Shukri Abdi is evident — Shukri’s case was dismissed as unimportant hours after her death, yet Madeleine’s case is still prioritized over a decade later.

Shukri Abdi was failed by all the institutions that should’ve protected her, the ones that would’ve protected her had she been a blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl, British girl. However, Shukri Abdi was a Black, Muslim, refugee girl and was therefore not deemed as important enough.

Many people have questioned how the children could be punished as they were 12-years-old like Shukri, however, there have been many cases where young offenders have been punished. For instance, in the 1993 case of James Bulger, the killers were both 10-years-old and they were sentenced several months after the murder of James. Understandably, the world was a very different place in 1993, however, the victim was white and perhaps that is why justice was served.

It is apparent that Shukri was failed when she was alive and even in death she is still being failed.