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‘Holy Rights’, a Muslim women’s struggles turns heads at Goa film festival

Director Farha Khatun at at the 51st International Film Festival of India, Goa

Making a mark as a sensitive film at the 51st International Film Festival of India, Goa, Holy Rights, highlights social issues, human rights, women, justice, family and religion. Talking about the film, its director, Farha Khatun, said, “Holy Rights documents the movement against triple talaq, it portrays Muslim women’s struggles to break free of patronising voices within the community as well as resist external forces against appropriating their movement to suit their own political agenda. Though the film talks about the Muslim community in particular, I believe it's an all-pervasive one, on the problem of exploitation of powers of women. It also gives a message that all of us can achieve something if we want to.”

Revealing the trigger for the film, she mentioned about the influences she underwent during her childhood and the experiences that led to the shaping of the film. “I was quite aware of triple talaq since childhood. I have seen and heard many heart-wrenching stories about it, they really affected and influenced me. My quest to know more about the act and its interpretation in the Quran led me to make a film on Safia, a woman Qazi.” What made her choice pertinent was the “unrest prevailing in the country over the issue.” She added, “any attempt to talk about patriarchy within religion is often dismissed.”

The plot of the film revolves around Safia, a deeply religious Muslim woman from Bhopal, driven by her belief that Muslim women are denied equality and justice in the community because of the patriarchal mind-set of the interpreters of Sharia. She joins a programme that trains women as Qazis, (Muslim clerics who interpret and administer the personal law), which is traditionally a male domain.

Describing as making of Holy Rights has been quite an experience for her, she said, “it has been a journey of five years.”