Women on the Front Line

Women on the Front Line is a one-hour documentary exploring the battle between the women's rights movement and rigid Sharia law in modern day Iran. The expose comes from Hossein Martin Fazeli, a filmmaker with a track record of bringing Iranian cultural topics into the public eye in his work. The film uses an interview-based format, intercut with beautiful imagery of the country and abstract artistic expressions of the oppressive conditions women are forced to endure in the culture.

The film wastes no time depicting the limitations women have imposed upon them, from mundane laws dealing with the restrictive clothing women are forced to wear (their entire bodies must be covered in public, beginning around age nine) to the downright blasphemous subordination of female testimony "value" in the court system. The poignant example used to demonstrate the latter is an instance of rape; where in the case of an accused man's word against a female victim's, a woman automatically loses the case because her testimony is only "worth half" that of a man's in the eyes of the court. So, unless there is a witness (how often is that the case in a rape accusation?) corroborating the woman's testimony, rape goes unpunished in the country in the bulk of cases.

Another story is told by a now lifelong-activist for the cause where a woman had quarreled with her husband about a rather nominal domestic issue, after which the husband headed to work and she set off to meet with her religion teacher - a longtime reoccurring practice for the woman. Upon arriving at the teacher's home, she was met at the door and told that she would no longer be allowed to study with the teacher, and that she must leave immediately. When the pupil pushed for an explanation, she was simply told that her husband had stopped by on his way to work and forbade the woman from studying there going forward. The instance demonstrates the power exerted over women is not only limited to their own actions, but the way those in their lives are permitted to interact with them.

On a topic that many in Western culture think they have a grasp of solely from the sporadic CNN updates that are peppered into their lives, Women on the Front Line does a commendable job of educating audiences about the severity of disadvantage women experience in many Islamic cultures.

Watch the full documentary now