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Dying to Divorce cover image

Dying to Divorce 2020

Highly Recommended

Distributed by Women Make Movies, 115 W. 29th Street, Suite 1200,New York, NY, 10001; 212-925-0606
Produced by Sinead Kirwan
Directed by Chloë Fairweather
Streaming, 81 mins

College - General Adult
Divorce; Domestic Violence; Feminism; Women’s Rights

Date Entered: 02/22/2023

Reviewed by Audra M. Deemer, Head of Acquisitions & Collections, DePaul University

The rates of femicide, gender-related killing of women and girls, and gender-based violence are high in Turkey with more than one in three women experiencing domestic violence. This violence towards women in Turkey is not really that different statistically from women in other countries with 1 in 3 women globally experiencing violence, but political events during the time period Dying to Divorce was filmed uniquely affected the lives of Turkish women and the work of those activists fighting for victims’ justice and the prevention of violence against women.

This film introduces us to the stories of two women, Arzu and Kubra. They come from very different socioeconomic backgrounds, but both are victims of horrific domestic violence in Turkey. After the violence, they are further victimized by a legal system that protects the male perpetrators with minimal or no punishment. Ipek Bozkurt is a lawyer working with activists to change these outcomes.

Throughout the film we witness the changing political atmosphere and how this affects the work of Bozkurt and the lives and personal freedoms of those around her. We see how it is nearly impossible to discuss the violence against women in Turkey without also concurrently examining the political events and consequential dismantling of democratic freedoms by an authoritarian regime, particularly after the failed 2016 military coup attempt. Bozkurt makes the observation that when you see so much violence, guns, and blood at the state level and the public level, it translates into private lives.

This is not an easy documentary to watch. The descriptions of the violence are extremely disturbing and could be triggering to some including abuse victims. But this film is valuable for shining a light on violence against women, and in particular women in Turkey, as well as the power of activist movements and in particular, those movements led by women.

Best Feature Film, Scottish BAFTA Awards; Amnesty International Best Film Award, Thessaloniki Documentary Festival; Best Social issues & Current Affairs Program, BANFF Rockie Awards International; Courage Award, German Association of Female Journalists; Special Jury Prize, Documentary (News), Monte Carlo Television Festival; Special Jury Prize, Golden Nymph Awards

Published and licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license. Anyone can use these reviews, so long as they comply with the terms of the license.