Film Review: Dying for Divorce

Ipek Bozkurt

Domestic violence is a major issue in every corner of the world but in more traditional cultures it’s almost endemic. In Turkey, for example, more than one-in-three women (and girls) has been a victim. As with almost all Muslim countries, women are treated as second-class citizens. Men often see their wives, partners or daughters as little more than possessions and this is backed-up by regressive and discriminative law.

474 women were murdered in Turkey in 2019. This is usually at the hands of family members or partners, with ‘honour killings’ making up a considerable percentage. Anti-female sentiments are espoused by the Turkish government, including President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. With femicides on the rise, women are fighting back. Dying for Divorce follows the efforts of a courageous lawyer, Ipek Bozkurt, as she works with activists to fight for justice.

Dying for Divorce shines a light on the gender-based violence which permeates Turkish society. Filmed over a period of five years and focusing on the stories of women who were assaulted for simply wanting a divorce, Chloe Fairweather’s documentary highlights the issues in, what is, a distinctly patriarchal society. It’s a depressing picture, made worse by an increasingly authoritarian government. Dying for Divorce charts the social, cultural and political forces at play in this abuse and murder.

Dying for Divorce is out in UK cinemas on 24 November.

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