Dying to Divorce – Film Review
by Hugh Maguire
Director – Chloe Fairweather
On Sky Documentaries – Wednesday 9th March
In a world of so many challenges from pandemics to rising seas and global warming, how many abuses can we tackle, or even be aware of? And yet so many are linked and come down to key issues – the abuse of the weak by the strong, the abandonment of human sensibility for short-lived profit, power and gain, and the cruelty of one group to another The record on the physical abuse of women in Turkey is beyond sobering, it is disgraceful. And if we consider Turkey, as a member state of NATO, the Council of Europe, among other ‘civilised’ groupings it is hard to comprehend that such abuse can not only be tolerated but in certain cases seemingly condoned by a system oblivious to their cries for help.
This compelling, if harrowing, documentary filmed over a number of years follows a series of individual cases and the lawyer who argues for their cause. An underage bride, and eventual mother of six children, has her legs shot off – literally so, and her arms maimed with a view to making her crawl. A beautiful, sophisticated television presenter is seriously injured in a domestic altercation and everything is done to transfer blame to a medical procedure in hospital rather than physical abuse. Step by step and over years, we follow the challenge to compile evidence and a case against the abusers. So engaged are we by the subjects that we share their pain and frustration – we too want to take to the streets. But taking to the streets in Turkey is very high risk. All the while, the narratives are set against the inexorable rise of the cult of President Erdogan. The footage of crowds chanting his name is sobering.
We are left with the sense that the progressive secular republican ideals of Kemil Atatürk are to be replaced by some threatening hostile vision of the past, one in which women have only one role in society, that of being obedient to their spouses. And for all the horror, and it is horror, this is not a story without hope. Firstly there are the women themselves, the victims who are so determined to overcome their physical injures through a triumph of the spirit, they are inspirational! And there is also the love of family, the parents and siblings, who battle on for their loved one and lift and wash, push wheelchairs and meet with solicitors, and keep on fighting the good fight. It should be seen in every household and school n the land.