Friday, January 18, 2008

African Film: Sisters in Law

“If I don’t leave him, he will kill me” says one woman in this documentary, with a quiet but firm determination.

Those of us who braved the cold and the rain to venture to the London Buddhist Centre on Saturday night were treated to this very powerful and moving film about women judges in Cameroon who are ringing the changes in their own community.

In another scene, the same woman is told by the men in her family to go back to her husband and reconcile with him. “Soften your heart’, one man keeps repeating. “If I had known what the family meeting was about”, she says later, “I would not have gone.”

These women are so quiet, so passive, so beaten down. Literally. Some of them have been battered and sexually assaulted by their husbands over and over again, for years. Where do they find the strength to stand up for themselves?

The strength and courage of the women judges and lawyers comes as a surprise in contrast to the quiet endurance of their women clients and witnesses. It is clear that the men think they have the right to assault and abuse women, and believe they will get away with it because they always have. “You have skipped a century”, one judge says. “In this century, we respect women’s rights.”

When a conviction is secured for spousal abuse, for the first time in 17 years in Cameroon, the prosecutor declares, “Who would have thought it would have come from Muslim women!”.

I urge you to add the film Sisters in Law to your collection. Click here to buy it on Amazon.

For more information about Black people’s events at the London Buddhist Centre,
click here.

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