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Dublin: 13 °C Sunday 15 September, 2019

Potential MP describes how she survived after her mother went to jail for killing her partner

Naz Shah wrote an open letter this week, detailing her family’s experience with abandonment, abuse and even murder.

LAST WEEK, THE Labour party in England selected women’s rights campaigner Naz Shah as their Bradford West candidate.

Her campaign to get elected as a Member of Parliament hasn’t even properly kicked off yet but this mother-of-three is already inspiring people.

In an incredible open letter on Sunday, the 41-year-old told the story of her family’s struggles with abandonment, abuse and murder and how she is doing this all for the dreams of her mother and the future of her daughter. And an entire nation fell in love with her.

Shah’s father left her family when she was just six years old to elope with a neighbour’s 16-year-old daughter. Her mother, pregnant at the time and with two young children, moved them “from squalor to squalor” 14 times in less than two years before they finally had a home.

The home, was unfortunately owned by a man who her mother entered into a relationship with, in an attempt to provide some security for the family. He would later prove to be both sexually and physically abusive.

The Labour candidate explained that after “years of anti- depressants, failed suicide attempts and feeling desperate and destitute”, her mother snapped.

She killed the man who abused her.

Shah had been sent away to Pakistan at 12 in a bid to protect her from her mother’s abuser but was forced into her own unhappy marriage at 15. When her mother went to prison, and at just 18-years-old herself, she took on the care of her two siblings, who were 11 and 13.

“I remember the first day I visited my mother at Newhall Prison, when I left it was like leaving a crying child at nursery for the first time, I now became a mother to my mother.,” she wrote in her open letter. “We lost the house, we lost everything and the moving around started all over again.”

With the help of a number of women’s groups, she managed to convince the authorities to reduce her mother’s sentence and after 14 years she was finally released.

Dedicated to helping people, Shah herself worked as a carer for children with disabilities, as a volunteer with the Samaritans and then with the NHS. She has been a strong voice against violence against women, speaking at conferences to highlight the issue.

“I remember my mum saying Naseem I would be so happy if you became a prison governor as you could help women like me. When I expressed my interest last year for politics as its where I can influence change, my mother understood that her story from 22 years ago would resurface, it would open up wounds but she blessed me as she knew it’s what made me this way.”

My selection isn’t about me, it’s about the recognition of inequality in society. It’s an understanding that we still have many changes to make. It’s my way of making things right because if I’ve learnt anything I have learnt that through compassion we can change the world, we cannot change things through just complaining we must be part of the solutions and we must have conversations, real meaningful and honest conversations not only with ourselves but with our families, our communities and beyond.

The election candidate’s powerful story has been widely shared on social media and the support has been overwhelming:




In the general election this May, Shah will face George Galloway from the Respect Party, who took the seat from her party in the 2012 by-election. It looks like, with this selection, Labour may have a fair chance of winning it back.

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