First the three teenage girls from Bethnal Green, east London, now three teenage boys, caught in Istanbul and deported back to Britain after a tip-off from their parents.

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“She [Sharmeena] was crying loads [when the GP told her],” said Mohammad Uddin, who left his late wife to bring up his only child until he moved to Britain in 2007. Mr Uddin remarried in September, and Sharmeena fled to Syria in December. Despite the fact she “wasn’t very religious”, he didn’t think it odd when she destroyed all old pictures of herself, stopped listening to western music, and started spending her free time praying in her room. But Mr Uddin must take some responsibility for his daughter’s disappearance, because sadly it is as much about bad parenting as it is bad policing.

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Girls' formal education has traditionally been considered far less important than that of boys.

In Europe, exceptions were rare before the printing press and the Reformation made literacy more widespread.

In casual context, the word has positive uses, as evidenced by its use in titles of popular music.

It has been used playfully for people acting in an energetic fashion (Canadian singer Nelly Furtado's "Promiscuous Girl") or as a way of unifying women of all ages on the basis of their once having been girls (American country singer Martina Mc Bride's "This One's for the Girls"). The status of girls throughout world history is closely related to the status of women in any culture.

Luke Evans, Haley Bennett and director Tate Taylor bare all about the super steamy shower scene in new thriller ' The Girl In On The Train'. -' The Girl On The Train' is in cinemas now.

Girl has meant any young unmarried woman since about 1530. The earliest known appearance of girl-friend is in 1892 and girl next door, meant as a teenaged female or young woman with a kind of wholesome appeal, dates only to 1961.

Where women enjoy a more equal status with men, girls benefit from greater attention to their needs.