Whether you love or hate Valentine's Day - here is a selection of Al Jazeera documentaries featuring stories of love and loss from across the world.

Lebanon: Single By Choice

 


When Tarfa Itani catches up with long-lost female friends, she usually anticipates their first question: "Are you married?"

"I answer 'no'," says the 30-something jewellery designer and boutique owner in Beirut. "And then they usually follow-up with, 'Why, you're pretty?'"

Single, thirty-plus women are on the rise in Lebanon. Filmmaker Simon El Habre tries to find out why and comes across a number of factors contributing to this increasing number.

He concludes that, in today's Lebanon, perhaps being single is becoming the new norm. Women are taking more control of their lives in ways that much of society has not yet adjusted to.

Five women share their stories of love, life and marriage.

Finding Love in Japan

 


Finding true love is easier said than done. And in Japan, it seems that finding "the one" has never been harder. With a third of the young Japanese who have never had a relationship and many who don't want one, romance is on the rocks.

The government is now playing cupid to increase the nation's declining birth rate by funding matchmaking events to help encourage marriage - and babies.

Such events are also being embraced by reality shows, small towns and even monks who need a partner for their temple to survive.

But can love find a way in desperate and dateless Japan?

Mexico: My Dancing Heart

 


When you reach that latter stage of life so many assumptions are made: you will retire, you will relax or slow down and definitely leave the fast lane of life behind.

But this film follows a small group of elderly who get up on their feet every day and enthusiastically chase their next challenge, and in doing so challenge conventional thinking about the elderly.

Every Saturday night they meet in the public plazas of Mexico City to dance in the traditional style, Danzon. They explore the sensuality of dance, enjoy romance and seek out the possibility of love in this, their last chapter of life.

Cyprus: Island of Forbidden Love

 


Cyprus is not only a beautiful holiday destination but also a country where hundreds of Lebanese couples seek civil union every year.

In Lebanon, neither Christian nor Muslim religious authorities will perform marriages between couples from different religions.

The main reason for this is sectarianism. The country knows as many laws as there are sects, with 18 different laws on personal status for Lebanon's 18 officially-recognised religious sects.

So, Cyprus - 200 km off the coast of Lebanon - is the closest venue for mixed-faith love couples seeking for a civil marriage.

"We decided to get a civil marriage. Neither my parents nor our sects accept this. But eventually I took this decision," says Rabih.

He adds: "In the end, we all live together. Sunnis, Christians, Druze, Shia. We are all in it together. When you fall in love, nothing can stand in your way. That's my story."

Looking for love in the Faroes

 


Nestled between Norway and Iceland in the North Atlantic, lie the Faroe Islands, an autonomous country of the Kingdom of Denmark. 

With its harsh, windswept hills and six-month-long winter, this remote archipelago of 18 islands is not a place where you would expect a large ethnic minority from tropical Southeast Asia.

But since most Faroese women choose a life abroad, local men are increasingly seeking wives from further afield - Thailand and the Philippines in particular.

But what's it like for the brides who swap the tropics for this windswept archipelago?

Meet the women who are traveling to the far reaches of the earth to find love.

Comoros: The Grand Marriage

 


In Comoros , a volcanic archipelago off Africa's east coast, there are two types of legal unions: the small marriage and the great Comoran tradition of the “grand marriage”.

The latter is an age-old institution which has been passed from generation to generation. It's a symbol of social status on the islands and a must for any self-respecting Comoran.

Yehia Mohamed Elias, a former Comoran minister for education, married his wife Zakiya 20 years ago. He recently married his “new” wife Zuleikha just two years ago. Now he has to take part in the great tradition of the “grand marriage”.

It’s the first time in the country’s history that a men has held the wedding ceremony of the great Comoran tradition for two wives.

But this doesn’t come cheap. Elias claims to have spent all his money, more than €20,000, on the wedding A small fortune for someone living in a country which is among the 20 poorest nations in the world.

But while half the population continues to live beneath the poverty line, the grand marriage remains an important beacon of Comoran social standing.

India's Forbidden Love

 


In India, falling in love with the wrong person can be deadly. Every day, sons and daughters are beaten –some even killed - by their own families for rejecting the caste system and falling in love with someone from another caste.

In March 2016, Kausalya and her husband Shankar were brutally attacked on a crowded street in southern India.

Shankar, who came from a lower Dalit caste, died of his injuries. Kausalya survived and accused her parents of orchestrating an honour killing.

Witness not only follows Kausalya as she fights for justice through courts, but also shows her now-estranged grandparents and brother, who are desperately hoping Kausalya’s mother and father will be released.

The unique access to both sides shows a family torn apart by a caste hierarchy that remains deeply-rooted in India's social fabric.

Marriage and Divorce in Morocco

 


Marriage and the family in Morocco is governed by a family code, called the Moudawana.
Adapting well-established traditions, it has been in existence since the 1950s. However, historically, marriage and divorce had always been in the hands of men.

But in recent decades, this has changed. Civil society groups and women’s rights campaigners put pressure on the Moudawana, prompting King Mohammed VI to appoint a commission to examine its principles and practice in October 2003.

The result is more rights for women, particularly in introducing new types of divorce, including “irreconcilable differences”.

This film looks at the human stories behind the Moudawana, how it has modernised family law, and at the progress it still probably needs to make.

Source: Al Jazeera