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Calgary documentary says forced marriages aren’t too far from home

Calgary filmmaker Iman Bukhari is breaking open the hidden reality of forced marriages in Canada in her debut documentary, “Forced.”

Bukhari spoke to 10 men and women who had been forced into marriage, all between the ages of 17 and 27, but only one agreed to appear in the film: a girl who was taken to her birth nation and forced into an unwanted marriage at age 13.

“People think that because we are in a first-world nation, these things don’t happen here, but they do,” she said.

“[This girl] was a child herself and she went through terrible, terrible things, there was a lot of violence involved, and she was 13 years old – that’s Grade 7 – can you imagine?”

To mark the 10th annual National Victims of Crime Awareness Week, the Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association screened the documentary on Tuesday afternoon at the John Dutton Theatre.

Bukhari said the concept of forced marriages was never foreign to her, but she didn’t realize how close to home it was until she began the documentary. After putting a call out on social media, she discovered that many of her own friends had been victims of forced marriage.

Emphasizing that these marriages can happen to any gender, with any cultural background, at any age, Bukhari said she wants “Forced” to start a dialogue about forced marriages, bring the problem out of the shadows and help end the cycle.

“It’s a cycle that keeps continuing from family to family: it happened to the grandmother, it happened to the mother, so naturally it’s going to happen to the daughter,” she said.

“The problem is that you enter as an object, not as a human being, but as property...So my purpose with this documentary is to get people talking about this, to say that this does happen, and if you see it happen, to stand against it.”

The documentary:

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