Invoking Justice

  • Deepa Dhanraj
  • India, United States, Japan
  • 2011
  • 86 min
  • World Premiere
  • Panorama
In southern India, family disputes are dealt with by the local Jamaat, an Islamic advisory panel consisting exclusively of men that investigates and negotiates with families, the police, and the judiciary. At no point are women part of the process. Even when a woman is a central figure in the case, she will be represented by men, and judgments frequently disfavor women. In 2004, a group of courageous women set up their own Jamaat group to act for women. The filmmaker follows them as they tackle a number of complex family conflicts, varying from a request for divorce to murder cases. When translating at a women's conference in 1988, the panel's founder Sharifa Khanam was astonished when she heard the discussions about women's rights. "I had thought fathers and brothers had the right to hit us. And that we had to obey them. Then I understood: I can think for myself." Nowadays, Sharifa and her members head their meetings with confidence. Filmmaker Deepa Dhanraj visits families at home together with the women from the Jamaat. Her camera records how they use their understanding of the issues and the Koran and their sense of humanity to attempt to work with families, male Jamaat members, and police - despite prejudice, opposition, and rampant corruption.


  • 86 min
  • color
  • video
  • Spoken languages: Tamil
Deepa Dhanraj
Deepa Dhanraj for SAMA
Executive producer
Sally Jo Fifer for ITVS International
Navroze Contractor

IDFA history

World Premiere
Supported with €15000 for Classic: Production & postproduction

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IDFA history

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