In India, Muslim women have been fighting an arduous against the law of triple-divorce that allows Muslim men to give instant, oral divorce. 3 Seconds Divorce tells their story.
‘Talaq’. Lubna’s husband said this one word, three times and threw her out the house along with their infant son. As per the prevailing sharia practice of triple or oral Divorce, this divorce was legal and final. In order to return to her husband, Lubna was asked to undergo halala that requires the divorced woman to marry another man, let him ‘consummate this marriage’ and then divorce her before she can remarry her original husband. 3 Seconds Divorce’ tells Lubna’s story as she reels under the effects of triple-divorce and finds her way into Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, an Indian muslim women’s group fighting for reforms to Muslim family law with focus on ban on triple-divorce. However, Muslim faith leaders are adamant and accuse the muslim women of pandering to the agenda of Hindu right. Under resourced and out-numbered, the women continue the struggle against all odds and celebrate small victories.
The documentary follows Lubna and the members of Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan in this bitter-sweet journey. Shot over three years, the story is told through a mix of verité, interviews, archival images and animation. Although the practice of triple-divorce and halala are prevalent in many Muslim dominated countries like Pakistan, the documentary focuses on the issue in India as the socio-political circumstances of the country with Muslims as the largest minority add a unique perspective to the story.
In an exclusive interview with Usha Pudukkotai, the film maker Shazia Javed shares her ideologies, and how would like to make an impact and create an awareness on gender based issues.
Could you tell us about the film ‘3 seconds Divorce’?
Shazia: In India, it’s been legal to utter ‘Talaq’ thrice and it is considered as a valid divorce among a large section of Muslims. Muslim women have been fighting this issue but they have to navigate an environment where they face fierce opposition from patriarchal religious leaders within the community as well as a threat from those who want to co-opt their movement. This film amplifies tells the story of Lubna, who was divorced and thrown out of her house all of a sudden. We get to see the challenges she faces and sacrifices she has to make to rebuild her life and become an activist.
What inspired or motivated you to make a film on this subject?
Shazia: I’ve lived in India, and right from my childhood this question always boggled my mind. I couldn’t reconcile to the fact that this was legal. As child I even wrote a ‘Letter to the Editor’. I find this very insulting and abusive towards women. As a film-maker, I did my research and was amazed to find how much we many cases of triple-divorce exist and how much they are suppressed underground. This film is a platform that brings out the topic in the open and creates awareness.
Is this issue a prevalent concern in Canada as well?
Shazia: There are several cases within the immigrant South Asian community. Men & women who had ‘nikah’ back in India or Pakistan sometimes feel that this is valid or even an integral part of their faith. I intend to use this film for workshops and awareness campaign with the help of a community organization.
Do you plan on taking this film to other Film Festivals as well?
Shazia: This film premiered in Mumbai International Film Festival to a full house. The screening had a great energy and we got a fantastic response from the audiences. The film is also scheduled for a screening at a large-scale conference in London, UK. I have been approached to speak at educational institutions in Canada, to engage students on faith, gender justice issues. As a filmmaker, it is good to know that the film is being used as a conversation-starter. At the core of it, the film is about women’s human rights and that is a global and universal concern. So I do foresee the film traveling a lot. In addition, the film made its broadcast premiere of on ORF and there are some more TV screenings in the pipeline.
Are there any other upcoming projects in the pipeline?
Shazia: Currently, I am working on the impact of this film. I will be taking it to community organizations to screen it so as to spread the word. I also have a distributor who is actively seeking out venues. Apart from that, as a film- maker, I usually have many ideas at the back of my head. I will actively develop one or two of those now. Yes, I am ready to start working on my next film
What are your expectations from the Reelworld Film Festival?
Shazia: Reelworld Film Festival is devoted and focused on social impact and stories that intend to bring about change. They promote the work of racialized filmmakers and I am hoping that we as filmmakers can empower and inspire each other. The objective is to bring meaningful cinema to a wider audience.
Any message for our readers/audiences?
The film will screen on October 13th, 11.00 am at Canada Square Cinema in Toronto. Please do come out and watch our film and support us, thank you.