The Glasgow Girls: Many Faces of Child Asylum Seekers
The story of the Glasgow Girls started as an actual event. In 2005, a fifteen-year old school girl, Agnesa Murselaj, and her family, Roma gypsies from Kosovo seeking asylum in the United Kingdom, were summarily taken from their home in a pre-dawn raid. The family had settled in Glasgow five years earlier after fleeing Kosovo where their lives were in danger. Soon after the family was not granted asylum, immigration officials forced their way into the Murselaj home and sent the two parents and three children to the Yarl’s Wood detention centre to await deportation. It was not the first of such raids on families, nor would it be the last. Six of Agnesa’s closest friends, some asylum-seekers and some native Scots, joined forces and fought the Home Office in what became a major human rights campaign. They won the release of the Murselaj family, but their activism did not stop there. They continued to fight such harsh treatment, particularly on families with children, and achieved success in making these practices politically unacceptable. The story of the ‘Glasgow Girls’ was first told in two BBC documentaries in the series, Tales from the Edge, in 2005 and 2006. In 2012, Cora Bissett and David Greig, with Citizens’ Theatre and National Theatre of Scotland, created a hard-hitting musical about the event, and in 2014, the event inspired a BBC 3 drama, directed by Brian Welsh. In 2015, The Glasgow Girls Stories (BBC 2) revisits the girls ten years later as they reflect on the various versions of their story. This essay will look at the different ‘faces’ of the girls and their stories of citizen activism presented in newspaper accounts of the event and their multiple performative iterations, and it will explore the significance that these young activists were teen-aged girls.
- Bruzzi, Stella. 2006. New Documentary. London and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Glasgow Girls Q & A at the Library at Drumchapel High School. 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mT2B50X506s [accessed 8 Oct. 2015].
- Independent Asylum Commission. 2007. Citizens’ Asylum Enquiry Hears Evidence of Trauma Caused by “Dawn Raids”. Press Release, 6 June.Google Scholar
- Macwhirter, Iain. 2005. Power Failure Events of 2005: Dawn Raids. The Herald-Scotland, 18 Dec. http://www.heraldscotland.com/sport/spl/aberdeen/power-failure-events-of-2005-dawn-raids-1.34246 [accessed 1 June 2015].
- Martin, Carol. 2012. Dramaturgy of the Real on the World Stage. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
- McLeish, Jean. 2006. Their Fight to End Dawn Raids. TESS, 24 November. https://www.tes.com/article.aspx?storycode=2313937 [accessed 8 Oct. 2015].
- O’Hare, Liam. 2015. Home Office Condemned after Inhumane Raid on Asylum Seeking Family in Glasgow. CommonSpace. https://www.commonspace.scot/articles/1488/exclusive-home-office-condemned-after-inhumane-dawn-raid-on-asylum-seeker-family-in-glasgow [accessed 8 April 2016].
- Rancière, Jacques. 2009. The Emancipated Spectator. Trans. Gregory Elliott. London: Verso.Google Scholar
- Ross, Peter. 2015. ‘“They said they felt sorry for us because Glasgow was a terrible place. I wish I could tell them how wrong they were”: The Glasgow Girls campaign for asylum seekers inspired a musical’. The Scotsman, 28 June. http://www.scotsman.com/what-s-on/theatre-comedy-dance/they-said-they-felt-sorry-for-us-because-glasgow-was-a-terrible-place-i-wish-i-could-tell-them-how-wrong-they-were-the-glasgow-girls-whose-campaign-for-asylum-seekers-inspired-a-musical-1-2573928 [accessed 1 June 2015].
- Schaffer, Kay and Sidonie Smith. 2004. Human Rights and Narrated Lives: The Ethics of Recognition. New York, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2008/jun/13/immigration.immigrationpolicy [accessed 1 June 2015].
- Tales from the Edge. Director, Lindsay Hill. Producer, Simon Parsons. ‘The Glasgow Girls’ (2005) and ‘The Children Who Disappear’(2006). BBC Scotland. https://vimeo.com/52571808 [accessed 8 Oct. 2015].
- The Glasgow Girls Q & A, Part 1 of 2. 2008. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AoswwE9TJJc [accessed 8 Oct. 2015].
- The Glasgow Girls @Sanctuary Summit 2014. 15 November 2014. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vbMbOee7IvE [accessed 8 Oct. 2015].