The Return: Life After ISIS

Western women who left home to join ISIS explain why they did it. Now, many want to return home but Canada, the U.S. and U.K. won’t let them.

Available on CBC Gem

The Return: Life After ISIS

The Passionate Eye

Shamima Begum (U.K.) and Hoda Muthana (U.S.) made worldwide headlines when they left home as teenagers to join ISIS in Syria.

Now, after the fall of ISIS, they are among hundreds of Western women and children being held in detention camps in northern Syria, unable to return home. Their home countries don’t want them back, labelling them traitors and terrorists. In some cases, like Shamima’s, they have been stripped of their citizenship — a ruling her lawyers are challenging.

In The Return: Life After ISIS, presented by The Passionate Eye, several women who joined ISIS open up in an attempt to have their voices heard.

While the world sees the women as a threat, Sevinaz, a local Kurdish woman who helps oversee the camps, is more forgiving. She runs a writing workshop, which gives Shamima, Hoda, Kimberly Polman (a Canadian) and others the chance to share their stories.

Over time, the women become more confident and open up to director Alba Sotorra about their personal journeys: why they were attracted to ISIS in the first place, the traumas they faced while living under the regime, and their fears and hopes for the future.