“It’s not about the money. This is our right and this is how things work.”
Inshallah a Boy is the International Feature submission for Jordan. The film takes place in 2019 in Amman, when Nawal one day discovers that her husband Adnan has died during his sleep without any warning. His death leaves Nawal and their daughter, Nora, alone and forced to fend for themselves in a society that revolves around men. As a widow with no sons, the grieving widow has very little say when it comes to her future.
The domestic legal reality for Nawal is that the property ownership now rests in the hands of her brother-in-law, Rifqi. He gets to decide how the property will be divided, which includes the house and their car. Despite paying for most of the downpayment and half the mortgage payments, Nawal discovers that Rifqi now owns half the apartment. And since he desperately needs cash, he wants to sell it, which essentially will leave Nawal and Nora homeless. It’s a crazy system where the family of the deceased has a right to a share of the inheritance just because Nawal doesn’t have a son. Desperate and alone, Nawal claims to the judge that she’s pregnant with a boy hoping that it’ll keep a roof over her head for a little while longer.
The main antagonists in the film are the two men in Nawal’s life who should be her closet allies: Adnan’s brother and Nawal’s brother. They constantly declare that “if you need anything, I’m here,” yet they offer zero emotional support. Rifqi hounds Nawal for the money that her late husband allegedly owes him, as well as the portion of her house that he’s entitled to, according to the inheritance laws. And Nawal’s brother makes her feel like she’s the one who’s causing all the problems in the first place, by refusing to comply to the rules of the country.
But are they the real villains? The reason why so many men, and some women too, have no compassion for Nawal is because that’s the way the system works in Jordan. The country’s patriarchal, oppressive society is the one that’s truly to blame for allowing men to take advantage of the laws that are given to them. Rifqi knows that the house belongs to Nawal but he doesn’t care because this is what’s normal in Amman. And in the eyes of men, they’re entitled to the property. Nawal is thus forced to battle for a quarter of the basic human rights that her male counterparts are given due to the way the society is run in Jordan.
When a woman loses her husband, she actually loses her lover, her partner and everything in her life. Here’s hoping that one day we get to hear the phrase “inshallah, a girl.”