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A fake reality show trailer shines light on the real issue of child marriage

(JTA) — A three-minute trailer teases a new reality show called “Unseen Housewives,” and features women describing their experiences as child brides in forced marriages. 

“I was groomed by a pedophile at age 14 and married by age 16,” one of four young women in the trailer tells the camera.

“I turned into a housewife at 14 but no one seemed to care when it happened,” says another.

There is no such reality show, although the trailer, making the rounds on social media, is describing a real issue. The video was produced for Unchained At Last, a nonprofit that’s been battling forced and child marriages for the past 12 years.

Founded by a woman who left what she calls an abusive forced marriage in a haredi Orthodox community in Brooklyn, Unchained At Last hopes the video will draw attention to its efforts to outlaw marriage for children under the age of 18, regardless of their background. 

“We’re trying to solve a problem that most people don’t even know exists,” said Fraidy Reiss, Unchained At Last’s founder and executive director. “Most Americans have no idea that child marriage is legal in the U.S. Child marriage is a nightmarish legal trap.”

Unchained At Last has led a campaign that has outlawed child marriage in seven states, including New Jersey and New York. Legislation prohibiting marriage until the age of 18 is currently pending in 11 states: Maine, Vermont, Connecticut, South Carolina, Illinois, Kansas, Texas, California, New Mexico, Washington and Hawaii. The organization is particularly optimistic about the chances for passage in Vermont and Connecticut. Reiss said the group expects similar legislation to be introduced in Michigan this week.

The idea for the video came from Bruno Guimaraes, the creative director at Area 23, a Manhattan ad agency that specializes in health care campaigns, said Reiss. Guimaraes’ wife, the psychiatrist Morgan Fallor, interviewed survivors of child marriage and prepared their stories for the project.

Guimaraes’s colleague, Jihane Ghostine, produced the “Unseen Housewives” video.

“I just wanted to shed light on this topic,” Ghostine said. “I come originally from Lebanon where it’s actually legal to marry at a very young age. I think through our art and our crafts, we are maybe able to change the world in some kind of way. And this is what pushed me to do this.”

Ghostine said Gustavo Lemme, the director for the trailer, came from Sao Paulo, Brazil to helm the video. The actresses who appeared in the trailer worked at a discounted rate because they support the cause, she said.

The lines in the video are based on the real-life stories of women who were married when they were legally considered children. The trailer was shot in Tampa, Florida.

Reiss, married at 19, left her marriage after 12 years and went on to attend Rutgers University. In 2011, after working as a reporter at the Asbury Park Press and as a private investigator at Kroll, the global investigations company, she founded Unchained At Last. Initially it helped both Jewish and non-Jewish women leave arranged and forced marriages and seek custody of their children in civil court. Reis now describes herself as “a devout atheist.”

The organization has since begun pushing for legislation prohibiting marriage for children — which is legal in 43 states with parental consent or judicial approval. Opponents say child marriage is related to sexual exploitation, increased poverty, a higher risk of health complications and lower educational attainment.

Although the issue crosses various social and religious lines, Reiss has sometimes found herself facing off against Orthodox Jewish communities like the one she left and where, she said, friends were already married in high school. In 2018, the haredi Orthodox advocacy group Agudath Israel of America called the New Jersey legislation too strict, saying it wanted to see an exemption made for older teenagers who want to wed. The bill stalled under Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, and was signed into law by his Democratic successor, Phil Murphy.

Reiss hopes the “Unseen Housewives” trailer will go viral on social media. She plans to screen it during her spring travels to promote Unchained At Last’s legislative agenda. 

The group plans to continue with its “chain-in” events, in which women wearing wedding dresses appear in street protests with chains on their wrists and their mouths taped shut. More than 100 wedding gowns, some dating back to the 1940s, have been donated for the demonstrations.


The post A fake reality show trailer shines light on the real issue of child marriage appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Obituaries

Dr. NATHAN WISEMAN

Wiseman, Nathan Elliot
1944 – 2023
Nathan, our beloved husband, Dad, and Zaida, died unexpectedly on December 13, 2023. Nathan was born on December 16, 1944, in Winnipeg, MB, the eldest of Sam and Cissie Wiseman’s three children.
He is survived by his loving wife Eva; children Sam (Natalie) and Marni (Shane); grandchildren Jacob, Jonah, Molly, Isabel, Nicole, and Poppy; brother David (Sherrill); sister Barbara (Ron); sister-in-law Agi (Sam) and many cousins, nieces, and nephews.
Nathan grew up in the north end of Winnipeg surrounded by his loving family. He received his MD from the University of Manitoba in 1968, subsequently completed his General Surgery residency at the University of Manitoba and went on to complete a fellowship in Paediatric Surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital of Harvard University. His surgeon teachers and mentors were world renowned experts in the specialty, and even included a Nobel prize winner.
His practice of Paediatric Surgery at Children’s Hospital of Winnipeg spanned almost half a century. He loved his profession and helping patients, even decades later often recounting details about the many kiddies on whom he had operated. Patients and their family members would commonly approach him on the street and say, “Remember me Dr. Wiseman?”. And he did! His true joy was caring for his patients with compassion, patience, unwavering commitment, and excellence. He was a gifted surgeon and leaves a profound legacy. He had no intention of ever fully retiring and operated until his very last day. He felt privileged to have the opportunity to mentor, support and work with colleagues, trainees, nurses, and others health care workers that enriched his day-to-day life and brought him much happiness and fulfillment. He was recognized with many awards and honors throughout his career including serving as Chief of Surgery of Children’s Hospital of Winnipeg, President of the Canadian Association of Pediatric Surgeons, and as a Governor of the American College of Surgeons. Most importantly of all he helped and saved the lives of thousands and thousands of Manitoba children. His impact on the generations of children he cared for, and their families, is truly immeasurable.
Nathan’s passion for golf was ignited during his childhood summers spent at the Winnipeg Beach Golf Course. Southwood Golf and Country Club has been his second home since 1980. His game was excellent and even in his last year he shot under his age twice! He played an honest “play as it lies” game. His golf buddies were true friends and provided him much happiness both on and off the course for over forty years. However, his passion for golf extended well beyond the eighteenth hole. He immersed himself in all aspects of the golf including collecting golf books, antiques, and memorabilia. He was a true scholar of the game, reading golf literature, writing golf poetry, and even rebuilding and repairing antique golf clubs. Unquestionably, his knowledge and passion for the game was limitless.
Nathan approached his many woodworking and workshop projects with zeal and creativity, and he always had many on the go. During the winter he was an avid curler, and in recent years he also enjoyed the study of Yiddish. Nathan never wasted any time and lived his life to the fullest.
Above all, Nathan was a loving husband, father, grandfather, son, father-in-law, son-in-law, uncle, brother, brother-in-law, cousin, and granduncle. He loved his family and lived for them, and this love was reciprocated. He met his wife Eva when he was a 20-year-old medical student, and she was 18 years old. They were happily married for 56 years. They loved each other deeply and limitlessly and were proud of each other’s accomplishments. He loved the life and the family they created together. Nathan was truly the family patriarch, an inspiration and a mentor to his children, grandchildren, nephews, nieces, and many others. He shared his passion for surgery and collecting with his son and was very proud to join his daughter’s medical practice (he loved Thursdays). His six grandchildren were his pride and joy and the centre of his world.
Throughout his life Nathan lived up to the credo “May his memory be a blessing.” His life was a blessing for the countless newborns, infants, toddlers, children, and teenagers who he cared for, for his colleagues, for his friends and especially for his family. We love him so much and there are no words to describe how much he will be missed.
A graveside funeral was held at the Shaarey Zedek cemetery on December 15, 2023. Pallbearers were his loving grandchildren. The family would like to extend their gratitude to Rabbi Yosef Benarroch of Adas Yeshurun Herzlia Congregation.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba, in the name of Dr. Nathan Wiseman.

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Jewish community holds solidarity rally November 25

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A number of speakers addressed the crowd of 800, including Rabbi Yosef Benarroch of Adas Yeshurun-Herzlia Congregation; Members of Parliament Ben Carr & Marty Morantz; Yolanda Papini-Pollock of Winnipeg Friends of Israel; Paula McPherson, former Brock Corydon teacher; and Gustavo Zentner, President of the Jewish Federation.

Ben Carr

Click here to watch Ben Carr’s remarks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=crfREGNRKfg

Marty Morantz

Click here to watch a video of Marty Morantz’s remarks: https://studio.youtube.com/video/zHzC-iaqivg/ed

Gustavo Zentner

Click here to watch a video of Gustavo Zentner’s remarks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L3M_cCYuLgs

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