3 SECONDS DIVORCE is a documentary three years in the making by award-winning filmmaker Shazia Javed. Streaming now on Netflix, the controversial documentary sheds light on the practice that allows Muslim men to divorce their wives simply by saying the word ‘divorce’ three times. Commonly called triple-talaq or triple-divorce, this instant, oral divorce can only be given by men. In India, Muslim women have been fighting to have this practice legally abolished. “3 SECOND DIVORCE” takes you into this world through Lubna, who finds herself in this position.  Lubna makes her way into Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, an Indian Muslim women’s group advocating for a legal ban on this type of divorce. “3 SECONDS DIVORCE,” tells her story with a rare behind the scenes access to the movement that led to a ban on instant, oral, divorce in India. Javed’s thought-provoking and connecting films have been broadcast internationally and screened at film festivals including Hot Docs, DOXA, ReelWorld, and MIFF. 

Here’s what she shared with me about the documentary.

What are your thoughts about this law on divorce?

It puts women in particularly abusive and vulnerable situations. To make the matter worse, the man is not allowed to revoke it. If the couple intends to live together in spite of this kind of divorce, then the woman is made to go through halala. She is married off to someone else for one night, who then gives her a similar divorce after ‘consummating the marriage’. It’s all so demeaning & oppressive to the women.

Why was the creation of this documentary so important for you to produce?

While growing up, I heard about various cases of instant, oral divorce. I remember the older women talking around me when I was just a child. I remember a woman sharing with another how she always walked on eggshells in her marriage because her husband threatened her with this kind of divorce. She didn’t dare disagree with him on anything lest in anger he divorces her. I have always been uncomfortable with this. I have always asked how this is legally acceptable. How do certain faith leaders in power endorse this and get away with it? Why is the woman in a weaker situation i.e. the receiving end? Marriage isn’t really equitable from the get-go if the man has this kind of authority especially in situations where women haven’t been allowed education opportunities or financial independence. I wrote a letter to the editor on this when I was in high school. Now that I am a filmmaker, I know that I have this powerful tool to do something & amplify the voices of the women who have been working against this at grassroots level.

This documentary was three years in the making, were there any struggles emotionally with creating this film?

Definitely. I heard women speak and share their stories. I had their trust. I felt responsible. So when I was trolled online, called a whore or a jihadi bride for making a film like this, I was effected. I also knew that this is meant to silence me. So I decided not to engage with trolls but to focus on the film. That’s my strength, and that’s what the women trusted me to do.

Is there knowledge that the film is set to release on Netflix? 

It is now streaming on Netflix worldwide. I am very thrilled about this because it means we can truly reach a wide audience internationally. The issue effects community across the globe as I witnessed on my film tour to the UK. I am now getting emails from women as far out as Australia & from locally in the Toronto area that their lives have been effected by it. They feel validated by seeing other women on the screen who are questioning such archaic practices. We have also had several community engagement screenings followed by panel discussions. I am so thrilled that the film is able to open up these conversations that are otherwise pushed under the rug.

What upcoming projects do you have?

I am working on my next feature documentary that addresses some of the issues that the community is struggling with here in Canada. I am also working on a fiction feature.


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Featured image provided by Shazia Javed