Three forced marriage survivors – Nina, Sara, and Fraidy – tell the dark story of their lives through the lens of the unbelievable violence and trauma they faced in Knots: A Forced Marriage Story. Their journeys led them through sexual, emotional, and physical abuse, and into the world of advocacy – fighting to prevent other women and girls from the years they lost to their abusers.
It isn’t a well known fact, but child marriage and arranged marriage is still widely practiced, and not just in parts of the third world that most of us would rather not think about. Here in the United States, 48 out of 50 states allow child marriage in their law books – including California. Idaho and Missouri have the highest rates, allowing marriage at basically every age with the consent of a parent or guardian. This is a quick, disturbing way to solve the uncomfortable “issue” (as these families see it) of rape – if a child is raped and becomes pregnant, just marry her off to her rapist. Problem solved. Fraidy even shares a story of a father whose daughter became pregnant via rape from an older man, and he got on google to find the state where it would be easiest for him to marry off his child to her rapist. There are states with no lower age limit for child marriage. There are cultures where child marriage is expected. This is normal to them – a horrific crime that most of us cannot imagine.
Sara tells her story – her father kidnapped her and took her to California to marry her off to a much older man that was part of his religious group. Nina was raised in an insular Christian community which required arranged marriages – and was also raised to be subservient to men. The cycle of child marriage, arranged marriage, and the abuse continues, as these young women are forced to carry babies, forced to be sexually subservient, and given no financial freedom.
There’s unbelievable sadness, trauma, and sorrow in every interview with Fraidy, Sara, and Nina. However, as the story goes on, there is great triumph. Each of these three women have escaped – and used their escape to help many more. Nearly 250,000 children in the United States were married in the span between 2000 and 2010, and over 77% of those were marriages between young girls and much older men. This isn’t an issue from the olden days, this is an issue that is crushingly prevalent – and thanks to these women and groups like Unchained at Last are fighting tooth and nail every day to change those statistics.
Interspersed amongst the moving interviews and stories these women are sharing are interpretive dance pieces, from dancer and choreographer Bella Waru. Much like the knots of the tales being woven, her dances are tied up in knots of red thread – weaving like a tangled web and adding beauty to a disturbing world.
Beautiful, thoughtful, and enlightening to degrees I struggle to express – Knots: A Forced Marriage Story should be required viewing – not just for women, not just for parents, but for all humans. We need to do better. We need to see these girls and their struggle. We know them – and we are them.
Go to www.knotsthefilm.com or www.unchainedatlast.org to learn more.
8 out of 10
|Knots: A Forced Marriage Story
||1 Hr. 16 Mins.