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Documentary focusing on forced marriages.

My Forced Unwanted Wedding poster

Written by : published Tuesday 20th September 2011

Documentary focusing on forced marriages. main image

This insightful documentary takes a look at arranged marriages, a practice which involves 8,000 British young people every year. The programme tackles the issue of forced marriages and focuses on the stories of two young teenagers-Alia and Jessie.

The documentary begins in Bangladesh, where the British Consulate has received a phone call from a distressed young girl called Jessie, who is being forced by her family to marry an older cousin. Her name has been changed to protect her identity. Jessie is desperate to avoid the marriage and is seeking to be rescued. The team arrive at the girl’s house and they speak with her mother. Jessie is then taken from her family home to a safe shelter.

It is revealed that Jessie rarely left the house and she was uneducated. As she leaves the family home, she is fully aware that she will probably never see her family again. This is a risk she is prepared to take and she does not want to be forced into an arranged marriage.

The next part of the documentary follows the story of a British teenager called Alia whose name has also been changed to protect her identity. She has contacted a special branch of the police which deals with forced marriages. Alia reveals that she has already been forced to marry a cousin twice her age and she has a four month old son.

In the interview room Alia reveals that she dated a Bengali boy and her parents were very angry when they found out. Her father took her to Pakistan and for four months he pressurised her into marrying her older cousin. She admits that she suffered mental abuse and eventually agreed to the forced marriage. She reveals that she got pregnant so that she could return to the UK as her mother wanted her to stay in Pakistan. Alia believes her only option is to runaway and leave her son with her family.

Soon later, Alia receives a text message from a family member stating that her son will be taken to Pakistan. The police accompany Alia to her family home where she collects her belongings and her son.  Afterwards Alia is aware that she faces an uncertain and lonely future as she has bought shame on her family.

The documentary returns to Jessie’s story. After spending time in a shelter in Bangladesh, Jessie is ready to make a new start in the UK. She reveals with sadness that she misses her family deeply but she is ready to start an independent life in the UK. Although her father wanted Jessie to have an arranged marriage, she is determined to make him proud of her.

Alia’s story continues. She is shocked that her family have not been in contact with her. She struggles with her feelings as she knows she has brought shame on her family.

Fast forward 12 months and Jessie now has a one bedroom flat in the UK. She is attending college and she is a much happier girl. Although she has had no contact with her family, she knows that she has made the right decision. It is with sadness that she reveals that she realises she will probably never see her family again, although she states that she hopes one day they can forgive her.

It is six weeks later for Alia’s story. It is revealed that she has been in contact with her family and she is returning to Pakistan as she wants her son to see his father for the first time. The police are concerned that Alia will not be able to return back to the UK and she will be forced to stay in Pakistan. As the police discuss the situation with Alia, it is clear that she wants to go to Pakistan, although she is aware of what may happen.

The documentary ends by stating that 9 months later Alia is still in Pakistan and she is currently expecting her second child.

Two years in the making, this powerful and insightful documentary sheds a dark light on the issue of forced marriages. By focusing on the lives of two teenagers, as a viewer you become engrossed in their lives and you want to see a happy ending for both girls. Alia and Jessie struggle with their feelings as they are torn between themselves and the honour of their families. Should they stay and have a forced marriage to someone who they do not love,  or should they run away and bring shame on their family? The programme highlights the difficult decisions faced by thousands of girls every year and reveals  that in the 21st century, forced marriages continues to be an important issue that needs to be tackled.


About the author Stacey McEvoy

Stacey McEvoy

My name is Stacey McEvoy and I am currently studying Journalism and Media at the University of Huddersfield. I love writing and it has always been a great passion of mine. I hope to be a journalist, ideally writing for a newspaper or a magazine.

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