It feels as if women have always been forced to pick the shortest stick in the bundle causing them to go through many difficulties throughout their lives. Luckily, most women decided to stick together over the years to overcome these roadblock on their own against men and even other women who oppose their individual freedom. Although, there are some obstacles that we have to conquer, there are still other lesser known issues like forced marriage. Knots: A Forced Marriage, directed by Kate Ryan Brewer, reveals the life of three women: Nina, Sara, and Fraidy– all women who were victims of a forced marriage within their religion in which later they express the horrors they encountered.
It begins with Nina, a woman from Michigan who explains the Jewish culture and religion around her. She notes how all the women in the family were to always obey their father and under no circumstances were women allowed to question male figures or else they were looked down upon. From a young age, women are trained to be wives and learn the responsibilities as a wife such as: providing meals, keeping the house clean, delivering babies, and following male orders. Unfortunately, women in these types of situations do not have a say in their future as their father or husband have it planned for them already and the men in the family use the excuse that women should follow the same actions so younger relatives can look up to them and follow as well when they become older. When Nina came of age, her father sought a matchmaker and in “luck”, were able to find a partner to marry her off to. Since she had no choice and only wanted to make her father proud, she agreed to the arrangement but of course, little did she know what she was getting herself into. Sara, the second victim included in the film, had a similar story where she was married at the age of 15. Her and Nina had become victims of not only forced marriage, but also the traumatic experience of rape.
Fraidy, a young woman from Brooklyn went through the same issues as the last two victims. In her culture, being single was frowned upon and everyone in her family, including others around her, would shame her. Fraidy was rebellious than the others but mentions how she does not know how she willingly participated in the arrangements. She realizes the pain many women have gone through with forced marriages and how difficult it is to get out of them that she decided to start a help program where young girls in the same situations can call when they cannot turn to anyone else.
Verdict of 4 out of 5 Stars
Knots: A Forced Marriage depicts the struggles of girls and women in these situations well enough by highlighting the circumstances of these 3 women in a way that feels conversational. It is impossible to not feel the strained emotion from these women where I found myself struggling to hold back tears. Sadly, these events will continue to occur; it shows how some girls cannot escape under no circumstances, especially with the law backing up these practices and just peeking into that world through this documentary makes it all the more frustrating. Kate Ryan Brewer brings along others like Jeanne Smoot (Senior council for Policy and Strategy Tahirih Justice Center), Casey Swegman (Manager of the Forced Marriage Initiative Tahirih Justice Center), and Nicholas L. Syrett (Professor of Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies, University of Kansas) to discuss the work they do to help girls in need and understand where these principles might have initiated over the years. The film provides enough information to create a strong emotional connection with Nina, Sara, and Fraidy, three names that will stick with me for quite some time.