Women’s Rights

Sue Lloyd Roberts’ investigation of the forced marriages of English girls of Pakistani origin, is both accurate and heart-breaking. She tells of one girl, representative of many, who felt ashamed of her male-dominated home, embarrassed to come across school friends in town when she and her mother were escorted by her brother and of having her phone calls monitored because her father feared she could be talking to a boy. Then at seventeen, when studying for her A Levels she was tricked into going to Pakistan and forced to marry an illiterate man who spoke no English, skipped work and watched porn with his friends all day. He wanted to do what was in the films and raped her frequently. As with many such marriages she was left to live in his home, with his mother treating her as a slave. She went from preparing for university to caring for buffaloes. Happily, she escaped from that life two years later, with her son.
I suppose to some extent we are all aware of this type of despicable social system, if only by way of the extrapolation of knowledge from western history. In The Smile, I wanted to illustrate how easily the legitimization process could re-emerge to subjugate women and girls, especially as we grow complacent. And to show how women themselves, take part in this process.