Divorce: Iranian Style

1998, Society  -   85 Comments
Ratings: 7.73/10 from 11 users.

Divorce: Iranian StyleDivorce: Iranian Style unfolds inside an Iranian divorce court, providing a subtle and intimate look at the lives of women in a country stereotypically associated with fanaticism and oppression. Astute and beautifully observed, the film reveals the ingenuity and humor with which Iranian women negotiate the restrictions of their society.

Divorce: Iranian Style challenges preconceptions about what life is like for women in Iran. The most startling thing about the film is simply that it was made. The filmmakers follow the cases of three women who are attempting to divorce their husbands.

Although Iranian religious law frowns on divorce, a man is allowed to claim the privilege without needing to show cause, provided he pays his ex-wife compensation. A woman, however, can only sue for divorce if she can prove that her husband is sterile or mad, or if he agrees to let her out of their marriage contract. In the last case, the compensation becomes the bargaining chip: the man will sometimes give his wife her freedom if he doesn't have to pay.

The women are assertive, demanding, and persistent to a degree that confounds stereotypes of oppression. They challenge the judge, badger the uncooperative clerk for misplaced files, chew out their husbands and their husbands' families.

At one point, the judge tells a little girl (the daughter of the court stenographer who has been a fixture in the court from the age of two months) that he has a man picked out for her who's not like the riffraff that come in here. The girl has a more radical plan: I won't marry ever, now that I know what husbands are like.

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85 Comments / User Reviews

  1. x-Iranian

    The only way the whole world will be free from these dirty animals , atomic bomb

  2. Saki T.

    This documentary will make you want to protest for these women wanting to get a divorce. Throughout the film, we see that men have so much power over woman in an Iranian divorce. The women have to defend themselves, give everything they have to the judges. In common cases, the woman give up their "wedding gifts", a some of money gifted to the wives in which many who file for divorce never get, just so they can have their divorce. This documentary focus on several different woman wanting a divorce but this is just a few out of the many. From this documentary I learned that it takes so much time and energy for a woman in Iran wanting a divorce. Also, we see what it is like for woman outside the courts, dress code is shown to be very important. Women are told to take of their makeup because there's too much on.
    My heart goes out to these judges and the staff who have to sit through and listen to each and every couple that come to the court demanding a divorce. My heart also goes out to the couples wanting a divorce, especially the women because they clearly treated unfairly compared to men.
    I have to give this documentary 5 stars our of five for showing me what a divorce in Iran is like and how hectic and stressful each situation is with the different arguments involved in different couples.

  3. Deborah Moderate

    The beginning of this video. That the woman must make herself pretty and to be well behaved causes my bile to rise. The cleric stating that a woman can be married at 9 years of age because she has had an early onset of her monthly period. A child, a babe, married, sexually penetrated, her childhood all but destroyed. This is a crime against humanity. Whilst I am tolerant of others cultures, I am not tolerant of injustice. The women who lose their children because they have remarried but a man can have more than one wife. This even though it is a cultural tradition is not something I want too nor can I understand. Watching another woman defend this law whilst telling a female defendant that she is wrong to want to keep her children seems twisted. Covering women from head to toe because men cannot control their urges is archaic. I do not quite know what else to say because what I want to say would be most foul.

  4. AnaLorenaVictor

    Now, I feel sorry for these women, but when they come to America, then they don't even talk to us, they think they are better and looked at us with disdain, so there you go, sometimes we humans need suffering in order to humble our stubborn pride, sad to say. On another note, I was searching for a documentary that talks about women who are completely abandoned by their husbands with their children and drug addicts living in abandon buildings in Iran or Pakistan or Afganistan. Someone knows the name?

  5. AnaLorenaVictor

    The women can speak alright, that will happen in any culture, you try and keep us quite, we probably will prefer to die, but there is no denying that the law, in all aspects, give preference to the male. All the requests of divorce here were made by women, because men do not even have to go to Court for that. If he remarries is ok, if she does, she has to give up her children, is a never ending punishment unless you do what men want. I am pretty sure the Judge did not show all his power neither since he knew he was being filmed.

  6. ProudinUS

    That lady that kept on begging to keep the child would have been thrown in detention the first time she questioned the court and they know it. The Islamic faith does not tolerate women questioning authority in the real world.
    If this wasn't for show and on camera, that lady would've been punished severly for calling her husband a liar and saying she would rather kill the child then hand her over. Islam isn't the only one that has practiced that mentality.

    I believe stricked religious dominated countries will always be held back do to old customs and beliefs. Islamic men are extremly religious based people. They go by old beliefs of their land and are indoctorined since birth to stick to to certain princples regaurding their women.

    1. carkrueger

      It's interesting that you make those observations because I was thinking how liberally the women were speaking. I think your correct - cameras rolling let's show them we're somewhat tolerant.

  7. « - - -

    I have watched 20 minutes of the documentary and Im already stressed out... cannot imagine how those women feel about going thru all that misogynous treatment. ill finish to watch it tomorrow couse i dont want to have nightmares

    1. « - - -

      tragedy tragedy tragedy to those women... Dont forget to share the link !!

  8. yarapriest

    snipits of background info about the film maker/director of this doc. for those who are interested:

    Her name: Kim Longinotto,
    1.Feminist film maker/Director of documentaries concering the 'plite and struggles of women-kind' in the hands of their 'oppressive' male counterparts.
    2. Spent her childhood in a draconian all-girls boarding school where she found it hard to make friends.
    3. Studied English and European literature at Esssex University.
    4. Born to an Italion father and a Welsh mother.
    5. British National.

  9. TestTickle

    the usa tortures political prisoners and so does iran. i considered that a disgrace to both countries. but watching iran treat women and children like cattle was disturbing.

    1. AnaLorenaVictor

      I understand why you believe that that USA torture prisoners, but it is a lie, prisoners here are treated like little ladies, they eat, they watch tv all day, they have radios, clean bathrooms. You are probably referring to terrorists, which are not tortured all day everyday, and when trying to pull out info out of them I do not consider waterboarding torture, only sissies do. Torture in other countries include more bizarre and cruel things like cutting the person, hanging them from their feet and passing electricity, etc. Don't believe all the hate propaganda against US brought to you by the Communists and the Muslims.

    2. TestTickle

      You must be living under a rock to think that the USA has not tortured 100s of prisoners without ANY evidence that they were involved in terrorism. There have even been tortures that resulted in death. Why don't you read about Bagram or Abu Ghraib or Dilawar for starters? I suggest you try being waterboarded yourself, then locked in a stress position for a few days, or put in a cramped box, or hung by your wrists from the ceiling overnight, or doused with cold water and kept in freezing temperatures, or made to crawl on broken glass, or having a truncheon jammed up your sissy azz.
      What a pathetic excuse, saying other countries use more bizarre tortures! Does the USA have to sink to that level of barbarism? And the torture has been very well documented.

  10. lakhotason

    And the man on the radio won't leave me alone he wants to take my money for nothing I've ever seen

  11. charlieb1488

    Regardless of the way we see their laws, it has been interesting to watch this documentary.

    1. lakhotason

      No different than anywhere else. What do you think?

  12. blahblahbob

    aaah, the country of my birth! thank god (if there were one) my father was smart enough to get the hell out of their before the overthrow of the shaw. all of you on this board can talk poop and say that rights in the west are just as bad as the east. you are wrong. women have far less rights and the basic rights every person vary from station to station, on a much more extreme scale then in the west. i traveled back to Tehran 10 years ago to inform my extended of my fathers passing and the country is not what most would think. you cant see the real Iran in a documentary. the country is split. the younger men and women and youth want to join the rest of the world for the most part and were very gracious considering how much they SUPPOSEDLY hate westerners. it is the Islamic Revolutionist run state and the old timers who run it that carry out sharia law type punishment and population imprisonment through control of the military. it is they who want to pull the whole North Korea/anti-west/hermit kingdom/watch out cause we have sh2tt3 nukes that are only 75 years behind the times and sub-par missile guidance systems song and dance. Iran and the U.S. do have 2 things in common; beautiful countries and peoples being systematically ruined by their greedy, short sighted politicians and business elite.

    1. Guest

      I visited Iran around the same time as a tourist, i agree with what you write. Among the regular street crowd the old women are the worse, THEY are the ones pushing to keep the old ways in place.

  13. lakhotason

    I watched this twice and the second time just to watch the judge's face. He knows what the story is just as well as you and I do. As a male I'd like to plead genetics - but we can't.

  14. 1983mb

    I believe this documentary should be called Divorce: ISLAMIC style not Iranian Style since the country is ruled by a group of radical Muslim extremists.
    I don't think it is a secret to anyone that since the so called " Islamic revolution " in Iran, everything has turned upside down and the situation has been deteriorating.What you see in this film is a good example of what Islam can do to a nation/country. Iran once known as one of the oldest civilizations in the world is now a "sh**hole" due to the "plague of Islam".

    on a different topic,I am not quite sure why admin uploaded this 14 yr old documentary when Iran has already an extremely negative image in the world.
    For those of you who are not very familiar in the current situation in Iran , I have to say that this film does not necessarily reflects the current women's position in the society. The " women movement for freedom" has been growing exponentially despite the fact that Muslim clerics has been trying to suppress the movement by sending the activists to jail or even executing them.
    Hopefully, the Iranian people see freedom again and free themselves from Islam and an Islamic government

    1. Vlatko


      To be honest I thought the documentary was made in 2009. I was wrong though.

    2. Guest

      How come it says in the corner it was downloaded "by arashi 1981"?

  15. adilrye

    This isn't an Iranian or even Islamic thing exclusively, in many countries where divorce is a taboo and relatively uncommon, getting one is quite difficult.

  16. Meitagh Paz

    These small men are so threatened by women's passion and fight for justice in their unfair system that they have created laws and regulations to render women powerless without their own personal favour. Pathetic.

  17. jbriggs_87

    i wish women just did as they were told. then you wouldnt even have to hit them :(

    1. Far Spam

      its like if only Iranians would stop trying to play with nukes and then we wouldnt have to nuke them!

  18. Jack Aroma Marcus

    The film simplicity is amazing and where but in Iran.About the women in Iran,I think the suppression is less drastic as what I see.

  19. jossie_h

    Ugh this is all just so upsettting. The lack of basic rights and equality is atrocious. Its too bad because the youth of Iran have so much potential (men and women) but seem to be so supressed by things like questionable government elections ( 2009 elections cough cough...) I must add, however that little girl is adorable!.. ha and extremely smart.

  20. fahad al-MunaYes

    KEEP IN MIND this is shia muslims not sunni Muslims their Islamic laws are very different ,thus this video does not represent all Muslims

  21. Sieben Stern

    "I won’t marry ever, now that I know what husbands are like."

    ain't that the truth! out the mouth of babes!! XD

  22. Justin_Funski

    I didn't know they had video cameras back in the 1300's. I like the part where the judge tells the lady in the burka to make herself more attractive, to pretty herself up in order to lure her husband back to her and make him stop beating her.

    1. Guest

      Give in, dress up and put out. What a life :/

    2. Guest

      it's hard to recognize you these days, is your daughter still playing trick on you?

    3. Guest

      Yes, sorry about that. Am now back to being a rabbit, think the war is over ! :)

    4. lakhotason

      Wabbits! Be vewy, vewy quiet.

    5. Guest

      Laughing like a drain, thats so cute :) Elmer Fudd ?

    6. Achems_Razor

      What's with the wabbit's stuff, you know they breed very, very quickly!

    7. Guest

      Not quickly Razor but very very often :)

    8. lakhotason

      vewy, vewy quickly

    9. lakhotason

      None other than Mr. Fudd. Ever hear the song "Kill the Wabbit"? Elmer's greatest hit. Hilarious.

    10. Guest

      Not yet but I will, I love cartoons.

    11. Guest

      patchwork, "to rabbit on about something", i read is a british slang.

    12. Guest

      You always see a little something extra ! She is a piece of a piece I stitched last year, long ears do odd things to otherwise ordinary pictures :)

    13. lakhotason

      That's wabbits.

    14. Guest

      forgot to say, rabbit is short for rabbit and pork = talk. Cockney rhyming slang. Chas and Dave did a song called Rabbit, its awful ! :)

  23. drinker69

    what do you tell a woman with two blackeyes? Nothing, she's already been told twice!

  24. Guest


  25. KingLucas

    What the hell is this crap
    This is iran in the early 1980s this movie was not made in 2009

    1. Dalek Spliff

      you are correct, the movie is from 1998, according to IMDB

    2. Vlatko

      @Dalek Spliff and @KingLucas, you're correct. My bad. I'll update the release year.

  26. Sion88

    Little girls have to wear head covering too?

  27. Guest

    It would be best not to let the current situation in Iran taint your understanding of this doc, see it for what it is. A film about women whos lives are not their own and are subject to the rules of men, a skewed legal system and the god they use to back themselves.

  28. Herald

    Western propaganda videos trying to portray ordinary life as helish. Dont buy into the propaganda. We dont need war. World Peace!

    1. Epicurus

      did you watch it?

    2. everlaid

      Propaganda? Did you not watch the documentary. This is what happens in Iran. The women have no rights at all. I thought it was bad over there but I never though it was that bad. Its funny how when documentary's actually tell the truth all the Muslim loving retards cry propaganda and islamophobia. If its propaganda why don't you take your wife if you have one and move to Iran then see for yourself how it is and how all her rights will be taken away.
      I am Canadian and proud.
      I dint need to buy into the propaganda when the truth is right before my eyes

    3. Jack1952

      A video that portrays typical cases in an Iranian divorce court and your comment is about war? How to stay on topic. Divorce as a helish experience is propaganda? Obviously you have never gone through a divorce. Its helish no matter where you live...including the West.

      If what this video portrays honestly reflects what happens in Iranian divorce proceedings, how is that propaganda? Wouldn't it be the truth? Or are we not allowed to make videos about anyone but the West...and only if it is highly critical?

  29. jilted_generation

    This doc should be called "Divorce: Islamic style" or "Divorce: How beliefes strengthened by religion affect our social status".

    However, I doubt that many people will think of such notions after watching this doc.

    On one hand, marriage and the vows that come with it should be something people pay much attention to, not something you do out of judicial or financial convenience (as it is custom in the western part of our globe), on the other hand, each couple that takes part in this social ritual should have equal rights when it comes to forsaking the vows.

    As I see it, the west took something once considered sacred and beautifull and perverted the notion (if you don't believe me see how easy and cheap it is to buy a wife online - seriously) on the other hand easterners and especially middle easterners tend to take that notion of marriage to the conceptual extremes, but those extremes mostly are in the favor of males.

    As a side note, these types of things have happened for atleast centuries. If you are a woman and you feel your pulse rising after watching this, focus your anger on the limits imposed by religion, not on the country Iran, as the US propaganda-war-machine wants you to.

  30. Turley thornton

    Iranian women, those lucky enough to be in the middle class of Iran, drive cars, hold jobs, and are not treated badly. The same was true of Libya. Who are you people who want to focus on bad actors? Those folks could come to Amerika and have their children forcefully vaccinated (given diseases), and live like gang-bangers.

    1. Jack1952

      How does one respond to this? Americans do not forcibly give their children diseases and most are not gang-bangers. You are watching too much television and rap videos do not reflect the lives of ordinary Americans.

    2. rundownthestreet202

      Wait what? Are you actually saying you think it's easier for women in Iran than in the US? You have to be kidding...and your comment about vaccinations makes no sense. Guess you like catching diseases?

  31. Far Spam

    Oh look how oppressed women are in Iran....lets nuke them!!!!

    Same propaganda with Afghanistan... oh the women of Afghanistan need rescuing from the Taliban... lets bomb them!!!

    1. Jack1952

      The women of these countries do not have the liberties and freedoms that the women of the west take for granted. To trivialize their plight to express your anti-American sentiment is not only heartless but also self serving. No one in this doc talked of war. That is your interpretation and is your own brand of propaganda. The misdeeds of the United States does not grant license for other nations to act inappropriately. Wrong is wrong, no matter where it is or who does it and one should show sympathy when it is warranted.

  32. James Colwell

    rofl one of the very few civilized places? you lack knowledge

    1. jilted_generation

      do not use words like knowledge if you have no ideea what they mean.

      Just an advice, stick to abbreviations like "rofl" it suits you better.

  33. Ingus Krauklis

    Now is really not the time to stereotype Iran. It is after all, one of very few civilized places left. Hope people in the west will realize that before it is too late.