Women named after the ancient Egyptian goddess of fertility describe the pain of dealing with constant ‘jokes’ about terrorism
Before there was Isis, the extremist militant group responsible for the most brutal terrorist attacks and killings of recent years, there was Isis: an 11-year-old girl in Kent whose mother named her after the ancient Egyptian goddess of fertility, magic and motherhood. “I was really proud of it,” Isis Hales says. And now? “I just …” she trails off and her mother, Lucy, steps in. “You wanted to change your name, didn’t you?” “Yeah,” Isis replies quietly. “That was about four months ago.”
As Isis has come to control vast swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq, and claimed responsibility for terrorist attacks all over the world, Isis has been bullied more at school. In a few years her name has gone from being “lovely and unusual” to a byword for violent extremism and murder. “In year six,” as she puts it, “it really hit me in the face.” It may be one of the less significant and visible consequences of the rise of the terrorist group, and specifically the increase in Islamic State being referred to as Isis, but for women and girls who find themselves sharing a name with a hardline jihadist network, life can be a nightmare.