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Hot Docs 2021: “Dying to Divorce”


Rating: 5 out of 5.

While we fight for survival from COVID-19 and hope to overcome it, in some countries, even in a developed one, women struggle every day to remain alive. Why you may ask? The answer is simple – domestic violence. Sadly, in some parts of the world, women have no right to say anything, and the man can get away with murder because it’s equivalent to honor killing.

Despite being from such a country myself where a woman can get killed by her spouse just because the tea was not hot enough, it was unbearable to watch “Dying to Divorce” from director Chloe Fairweather. Shot over five years, the documentary captures the lives of three women, Lawyer Epik Ozkurt, a leading activist with the group We Will Stop Femicide who represents two surviving wives, Arzu and Kübra.

Right in the beginning, the film states clearly – one in three women in Turkey experience wife assault. In most cases, men go free unpunished by the law. While Turkish President Erdoğan once said that men should kiss their mothers’ feet, he allows injustice and killing to occur against the same women he publicly expresses his support for. And as you learn about Arzu and Kübra’s stories, it is more evident that violence likes this won’t end until drastic changes are made.

For instance, all that Arzu wanted was divorce from her husband. İnstead of handling it in a civilized way, he shoots both her legs and hands so she won’t use them again. Kübra, once a TV reporter from Bloomberg London channel, after two days of giving birth to a baby girl, her husband hits her four times on the back of her head causing her brain injury. While her brain functions, her speech is impaired, making the woman disabled for the rest of her life. İn both cases, their husbands were able to get custody of children because the mothers were too sick to take care of them.

Violence against women has not started with Erdoğan, yet it thrives. Men feel more empowered over women, making them fear for their own life. “Dying to Divorce” is a hard documentary to watch. But what depicts the true reality of women suffering or just a human being cannot be considered as joy or fun. İndeed, there should be something done at the top level to stop the violence and murder of women. Until then, Turkey is on track to get the numbers of women murdered annually so high that no other developed country will ever be able to catch them. By then, let’s hope there will be some women left in Turkey.

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