Dying to Divorce

Posted by on November 22, 2021 in Blog, feminism, film, Human rights, Law, Women's equality issues | 2 comments

Dying to Divorce/Dartmouth Films

Full disclosure: The editor of the film I review here is one of my oldest friends. Paul Dosaj has never shied away from working on films and TV programmes that address issues that can be difficult, shocking or downright horrifying. Yet they are never gratuitously so; his treatments emphasise the power of humanity while exposing some of the most egregious human behaviour.

Dying to Divorce is one of his recent projects. It investigates the shocking levels of femicide and domestic violence in Turkey, where 1 in 3 women have experienced domestic violence, which is the highest proportion amongst economically developed countries worldwide.

The film follows Ipek Bozkurt, a courageous lawyer, who is determined to challenge this misogynistic trend by putting abusive men behind bars. Working with a group of activists, Ipek is fighting to get justice for two survivors of horrific assaults: Arzu, married off at 14 to a farmer ten years her senior and Kubra, a successful and glamorous TV presenter.

Arzu lost both legs and the use of her arms when her husband fired seven shotgun shells at close range after she asked for a divorce. She must try to rebuild her life to regain custody of her children, who have been taken into care.

Kubra suffered a brain haemorrhage after being attacked by her husband, two days after giving birth. Her injuries resulted in the loss of her ability to speak and walk. Her husband denies attacking her and has kept their daughter. Kubra must undergo intensive speech therapy in order to testify against him in court. Unless he is convicted, Kubra may not see her daughter again.

Ipek must fight not only against a legal system that regularly gives light sentences to male perpetrators, but also an increasingly repressive government. After an attempted coup, there was an unprecedented crackdown on dissenting voices leaving Ipek, like thousands of other lawyers, fearing imprisonment.

Filmed over 5 years, ‘Dying to Divorce’ takes viewers into the heart of Turkey’s gender-based violence crisis and the recent political events that have severely eroded democratic freedoms. Through intimately shot personal stories, the film gives a unique perspective on the struggle to be an independent woman in modern Turkey.  Director Chloë Fairweather and producer Sinead Kirwan have handled an extremely delicate subject with sensitivity and support, and while the film is not easy to watch, one is left with a sense of optimism and hope.

Dying to Divorce will be showing in UK cinemas from 24th November – 10th December, and I would encourage you to see it if possible and applaud the courage and persistence of the women featured. For cinema listings go to: www.dyingtodivorce.com 

Finally, the film has been nominated for several prestigious awards:

  • Nominated BIFA Best Documentary Award
  • Nominated Rose D’or Best Documentary Award
  • Nominated for Prix Europa Award Best documentary
  • Nominated for The Japan Prize
  • Jury Special Prize in the Documentary (News) category at Monte Carlo Television Festival 2021
  • Winner Courage Award from Journalistinnenbund e.v (German Association of female journalists)
  • Winner the Amnesty International Best Film Award at Thessaloniki Documentary Festival 2021 (Greece)
  • HotDocs 2021, in « Persister » programme which features work by women about women speaking up and being heard (Canada)
  • Movies That Matter 2021 in Camera Justitia Competition and Grand Jury Prize Competition (Netherlands)


  1. Dying to Divorce is also the official UK entry for Best International Feature at the Oscars.

    • Yet another feather in your cap!

      Dame B

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