In the West, forced child marriage is an issue usually associated with ‘other parts of the world’, affecting ‘people different to us’. Knots: A Forced Marriage Story, addresses these misconceptions and shines a light on the shocking statistic that between 2000 and 2010, 250,000 children were legally married – most of whom were young girls married to significantly older men.
The award-winning film focuses on the stories of three survivors - Fraidy Reiss, Sara Tasneem and Nina Van Harn – each coming from different backgrounds and religions, yet share many of the same experiences. The women were, to different extents, brought up to be obedient wives and mothers and although marriage was presented as a choice to two of them, it was a choice in name only, with the alternative being their disownment by families and wider communities. The three women movingly describe how their physical and mental health has been impacted by forced child marriage, highlighting the long-lasting consequences of the harmful practice.
As Fraidy, Sara and Nina give their testimonies, the overarching narrative provides the wider context of child marriage in America. We are introduced to the legal loopholes which allow parents to marry off their children, and the advocates raising awareness and fighting for a change in the laws. Banning child marriage in a country in which each of its 50 states has different laws and loopholes may seem like an immense task, however for the women featured in the film, it is a cause worth fighting for.
Director Kate Ryan Brewer’s debut film does a fantastic job of exposing abuses that are too often thought of as not affecting America and the West. The film allows each woman to tell her story in full, and moves at a pace that keeps the viewer engaged from start to finish.
In February, we hosted a live Q&A session with the director, Kate Ryan Brewer, and survivors, Fraidy, Sara and Nina. You can watch the recorded session below.