LAST NIGHT IN EDINBURGH
When teen sisters Zahra and Hoda discover that their family holiday abroad is really a plan by their parents to deliver them both into forced marriages, the girls flee home to find their own ways of remaining in Edinburgh, testing the limits of their bond and the resolve of the adults who control their futures.
DIRECTED BY BITA SHAFIPOUR
WRITTEN BY CHRIS BOYD & BITA SHAFIPOUR
PRODUCED BY CHRIS BOYD & BITA SHAFIPOUR
While reading about the cases of child and forced marriages in the developing world, I came across a shocking number of cases of forced marriages in the UK and many other European countries. Only in 2013, an estimated 8000 women and children were forced to marry, while only 1301 of them had been reported to the Forced Marriage Unit. Nobody really knows the exact number of cases, because most of these women and children never report their case to the police or even the NGOs, fearing the detention of their parents.
While a lot of these marriages take place in the UK and are never reported, a good percentage of them take place abroad during the school holiday season. Forced marriage on its own at home has enough psychological toll, let alone going across the waters to another country and living with a family you’ve never known. The consequences of forced and child marriages are almost always unfortunate and sometimes utterly tragic.
Further research brought me closer to the work of several NGO’s that work on prevention of forced marriages as well as helping the survivors. One of these organizations came up with a very clever idea to help the girls who fear their trip abroad may be a plan by their parents or guardians to marry them. They advise young women and girls to carry a spoon in their underwear at the airport as their last resort to stop their trip. The authorities will be notified while they go through the metal detectors at the airports’ scanners. The airport security knows about this code and will handle the matter with much care and attention.
When Chris and I decided to make a short film about this topic, we really wanted to know what it would be like to be the girls and the parents going through such a shocking experience. We wanted to really feel for these two sisters who are born and raised in Edinburgh, grow up in a British society, have a normal life until they are faced with the greatest challenge of their lives: to become women over-night. We also really wanted to understand the parents, and see the world from their perspectives. They truly believe that their girls will be happier in a different society where they can easily marry up and have everything provided for them. We did not want to point our fingers to a specific culture or country. Forced marriages are common in many parts of the world and we wanted to address this issue on a global scale. We believe all of the countries including the UK are equally responsible in putting an end to this practice.
For more information on Forced Marriages in the UK visit: https://www.gov.uk/forced-marriage
For more information on Child Marriage visit: http://www.girlsnotbrides.org
A forced marriage is where one or both people do not (or in cases of people with learning disabilities, cannot) consent to the marriage and pressure or abuse is used. It is an appalling and indefensible practice and is recognised in the UK as a form of violence against women and men, domestic/child abuse and a serious abuse of human rights.