The Womanhood Issue

Tackling Divorce Through Photography

Bahraini photographer Enas Sistani reflects on her work, 'Mo’alakat: Stuck in the Unknown.'
Mo’alakat: Stuck in the Unknown by Enas Sistani. Image courtesy of Enas Sistani.

Enas Sistani is a 35 year old Bahraini photographer who is inspired by people’s stories and experiences. ‘I’d like to think of my photography as a platform through which I capture those different experiences, especially ones that societies and people tend to shy away from discussing or tend to consider them to be taboo topics. I would love to be able to break that stigma and push boundaries by covering those stories visually,’ she says. 

In recounting the inspiration behind one of her latest photographs, Mo’alakat: Stuck in the Unknown, the photographer says, ‘This photo was taken to showcase a recent campaign calling for the rights of mo’alakat. The campaign, which the Al Tafawuq Centre in Bahrain spearheaded, looks to convey and narrate the suffering of women who ask for khul’ (divorce) but do not get it because their spouses ask for a hefty fine in exchange for a divorce. In many cases, women fail to meet this demand because of limited financial ability, which often surpasses the dower that they receive upon their marriage. As a result, women are usually left as mo’alaka (hanging or suspended), with neither a wife’s nor a divorcee’s rights. In the photo, I resorted to symbolism to depict the issue at hand by using hangers to demonstrate the status of those women, left hanging with no hope in sight. The Arabic word for hangers —aa’lakah— and women who are suspended —mo’alakat— stem from the same root, and using hangers in the photo makes for an indirect play on words as well as a symbolic representation of the situation without explicitly using the word mo’alakat.’

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