State Rep. Perry Warren introduced House Bill 1038 focused on an end to child marriage before age 18 without exception in April. The bill has seen little action in the House but has gained the attention of independent filmmakers.
Kate Brewer, the director, left her full-time job at the Tahirih Justice Center to create a documentary on the forced marriage situation facing the United States.
“This is such a critical issue,” Brewer said. “It’s happening right in our backyard, and so few people have an understanding of what’s going on.”
Knots: A Forced Marriage Story will air sometime in 2018 with hopes of making it to a film festival or beyond. The documentary will present legislation being worked on throughout the country and give a lense to survivors of child marriages.
Fraidy Reiss, the Founder and Executive Director of Unchained At Last, is one of the survivors the documentary follows. Unchained is an organization known for their visually shocking protests. Child marriage survivors will dress in their wedding gowns while wearing chains on the front steps of capitol buildings to the streets of a bustling city.
Reiss has been working with Warren and various legislators around the country to determine their action for bills to end the “pervasive human rights abuses.”
“I’m really grateful I’ve been able to be a small part of it,” Reiss said. “It’s surprising to me that there has been pushback from some legislators in state after state.”
Brewer enlisted a former colleague, Jasmine Lord, a camerawoman from Los Angeles.
“I realized this (child marriage) isn’t just in developing nations,” Lord said.
According to reports, between 2000 and 2015 more than 200,000 children, mostly girls, were married to an adult.
Currently, House Bill 1038 is in the House Judiciary Committee. Warren says the next step for Pennsylvania is to get the attention of the Committee, bring it to a vote which will force it to the House floor.
“We could still be the first state that ends child marriage,” Warren said.
Knots will capture the work being done around the country. The idea behind the documentary is to show the “loopholes” in the current marriage license laws.
“It’s 50 states to go,” Reiss said. “We don’t want more loopholes, we want to eliminate them.”
Wendy Robinson, Director of Policy and Advocacy of Unchained, is a guide for the film and the different processes each state must abide by in order to end child marriage.
The two will work with Warren to gain support from non-profit organizations and other elected officials.
Note: the Knots: A Forced Marriage Story website is currently under construction but should be up shortly with more information.