Invoking Justice

A film by Deepa Dhanraj

India | 2011 | 85 minutes | Color | DVD | Tamil | Subtitled | Order No. 121082

SYNOPSIS

In Southern India, family disputes are settled by Jamaats—all male bodies which apply Islamic Sharia law to cases without allowing women to be present, even to defend themselves. Recognizing this fundamental inequity, a group of women in 2004 established a women’s Jamaat, which soon became a network of 12,000 members spread over 12 districts. Despite enormous resistance, they have been able to settle more than 8,000 cases to date, ranging from divorce to wife beating to brutal murders and more. Award-winning filmmaker Deepa Dhanraj (SOMETHING LIKE A WAR) follows several cases, shining a light on how the women’s Jamaat has acquired power through both communal education and the leaders’ persistent, tenacious and compassionate investigation of the crimes. In astonishing scenes we watch the Jamaat meetings, where women often shout over each other about the most difficult facets of their personal lives. Above all, the women’s Jamaat exists to hold their male counterparts and local police to account, and to reform a profoundly corrupt system which allows men to take refuge in the most extreme interpretation of the Qur’an to justify violence towards women.

PRESS

“An intimate and inspiring portrayal of the collective action of Muslim sisterhood. This is a particularly important film for our times in that it tells a story that runs counter to the dominant stereotypes about Muslim women.”

Stephen Hughes School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London

***1/2 stars, "Combining interviews with footage shot in police stations, communities, and private homes, this engaging and thought-provoking documentary is highly recommended.”

Video Librarian

SCREENING HIGHLIGHTS AND AWARDS

  • Film Southasia, QFX Jury Award
  • Hawaii International Film Festival
  • San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival
  • Asian American International Film Festival
  • Int’l Doc FF Amsterdam (IDFA), International Premiere
  • One World International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival, Prague
  • Helsinki Documentary Film Festival

ABOUT FILMMAKER(S)

Deepa Dhanraj

Deepa Dhanraj is an award winning filmmaker who has been actively involved in the women's movement since 1980. Over the years, she has participated in workshops, seminars and discussion groups on various issues related to women's status - political participation, health and education. Deepa has an extensive filmography spanning nearly three decades that include many series of films on education and health as well as award wining documentaries. Enough of this Silence (2008) , The Advocate' (2007), "Nari Adalat" (2000), 'Itta Hejje Mundakka Thegiya Bediri Hindakka', a series of 12 films for elected women in Gram Panchayats (1995), 'The Legacy of Malthus' (1994), 'Something like a War' (1991), 'Kya Hua Iss Shehar Ko' (1986) and 'Sudesha'(1983), are a few of her films. Her films have traveled to numerous film festivals world wide. (6/12)

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