Forced Marriage Cops

Anna Hall | UK | 2015 | 47 mins

Forced Marriage Cops Synopsis

In 2015, British youth are fleeing the curse of forced marriages while law enforcement desperately tries to implement a law requiring children to turn against their parents in order to secure convictions.

Directed by Anna Hall in conjunction with Karma Nirvana.

Forced Marriage Cops was an official selection of the 2016 WVN Online Film Festival.

About the Filmmaker

Anna Hall has been working in documentary film for quite some time. She started off at Chameleon TV in Leeds as a researcher and got promoted to Assistant Producer on her first gig; since then she has worked her way up. She has generated many of her own films herself from her own ideas and access. Her first film Dunblane Remembering our Children was the only film to be made about the families in Dunblane who lost their children. It was made possible through A nna’s access as she grew up in Dunblane and had personal ties with some of the families, with some of whom she remains friends with today.

The families had only ever been seen on TV fighting the battle for better handgun laws in this country. Yet in this film, it was about the children who died and their lives, and it became a powerful testimony on friendship in grief. The film was transmitted as a Network First Special on ITV on the first anniversary of Dunblane in 1997 to an audience of 6.6 million at 9 pm. It was nominated for an RTS and an Emmy and won the Prix Italia. Anna’s career has been pretty much gone downhill from there!

In 1997, Anna came across the vicious phenomena of young school girls being groomed for sex. Living in Leeds, a study conducted by Barnardos in Bradford showed that the explosive element at the heart of this story was that the perpetrators were overwhelmingly Pakistani. A few years later she found herself directing her first network doc which became a 90-minute feature doc called ‘Edge of the City’ for Channel 4 – the first film to expose this phenomenon.

The film was hugely controversial for Channel 4, and was pulled from their schedule 3 weeks before local elections. A few months later in August 2004, it broadcasted, with just about every police officer in Bradford on duty. No riots occurred and Channel 4 stood by Anna’s research and determination to tell this story.

More from the Filmmaker

I teamed up with national honor based abuse charity Karma Nirvana and the Public Protection Teams at Greater Manchester Police to follow events in the first year when forced marriages became illegal in the United Kingdom. What the team found was truly shocking: schoolgirls regularly calling the police for help, saying that their families were threatening to kill them if they did not go ahead with a pre-planned marriage. The team painstakingly worked with frontline officers and one day received a call from a girl who said, “The police said you want to talk to me. You can talk to me. I think it’s really important that other kids know they’ve got a choice.”

This extraordinarily brave woman allowed our cameras to follow her, not only as she talked to the police but also as she returned home to collect her belongings with the officer reminding her it could be the last time she saw her father. In one of the most shocking scenes in the film, her father says, “You can hit your wife and your sons but you can’t hit your daughters,” as his defense. The film also follows the largest single case of child protection against forced marriage that Greater Manchester Police have ever seen, with 15 children in one extended family who needed protection.

This film shows that the abuse against women and children, of forcing them into a lifetime of slavery and often domestic violence in a forced marriage, is alive and well in the United Kingdom, despite the new legislation.

About the Collaborator

Karma Nirvana is a registered Charity that supports victims and survivors of honor based abuse and forced marriage in the United Kingdom. Karma Nirvana’s founder Jasvinder Sanghera is a best-selling author and has written Shame, Daughters of Shame, and Shame Travels. The words ‘Karma Nirvana’ simply mean ‘Peace and Enlightenment’, which is what the organization hopes to bring to the lives of victims in honor based abuse and forced marriage.

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