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Two Sisters (1992)

Courtesy of Channel Four International

Main image of Two Sisters (1992)
For Black Bag, Clark Productions for Channel 4, tx. 19/11/1992
26 minutes, colour
DirectorPaul Sen
ProducerPaul Sen

The story of Zubaida and Farida Begum, two Birmingham-born sisters; of the marriages arranged for them when they were children which have taken them halfway around the world to meet their husbands, and of the labyrinthine complexities of the British immigration policy.

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Broadcast as part of Channel 4's documentary strand Black Bag (1991-97), 'Two Sisters' examines the difficulties faced in relationships between married couples who cannot be together as a result of immigration legislation.

At the beginning of the documentary Zubeida discusses her marriage, arranged by her family when she was very young. She makes no complaint: this was what was expected of her and choice was never an issue. The first half of the documentary follows Zubeida around Birmingham while she tries to sort out her husband's immigration problems. She endeavours to persuade the authorities that she cannot live in Pakistan due to her ill health and wants her husband and son with her in England.

The second half of the programme crosses over to Pakistan, to the village of Kothlikohan, where the sisters were married. Farida, who still lives there with her husband, is interviewed wearing her veil. She explains that the Muslim sect that she lives within, the Pushtoons, is very strict. Her husband has given her permission for an interview, however when her husband has to go away for a few days, Farida's brother and father-in-law forbid the interview. Farida tells the interviewer her resentment at this. She explains that she missed the freedom she had in Birmingham, that in her village now woman are seldom allowed to leave the home without a male family member. The difference between the two sisters is that Farida seems genuinely dissatisfied with her life in Pakistan, but her husband is not allowed to return home with her to Birmingham. The documentary raises the fundamental question of the 'right' to be able to live where one chooses.

Mariayah Kaderbhai

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Video Clips
1. The engagement (2:57)
2. Farida in Pakistan (2:09)
3. Family reunion (4:12)
Nice Arrangement, A (1991)
Channel 4 Documentary