The documentary film “Sisters in Law” was shown at our March 11, 2012 meeting, followed by a discussion. The film takes place in Cameroon, Africa, and focuses on two women, a judge and a court president, who worked tirelessly to bring about justice in crimes against women and children. These two courageous women inspired courage among their peers who then stand up against patriarchal privilege in their culture. Victims of crime received the support needed to bring perpetrators of the crimes committed against them to justice. These cases include Samita, a young girl who accuses a neighbor of rape; Manka, a six-year-old girl who had been beaten severely with a coat hanger; and Amina, a wife seeking divorce from her abusive husband. All three received emotional and social support that ultimately empowered them to stand strong in the midst of adversity and to speak out against the patriarchal privilege so prevalent in their culture.
Several parts of the film were difficult to watch, and gasps of outrage and disgust were audible among our audience. Soft laughter could be heard as we witnessed the mother in the film teaching her small child his colors, and then watched as she ruled the court in no-nonsense fashion, threatening to have one of the perpetrators “thrashed” if he did not settle down in the courtroom.
Questions arose about the issue of abuse, which is certainly a universal dilemma requiring a tremendous amount of courage for anyone to be able to break out of that cycle, both here and abroad. One result of the courtroom proceedings is that for the first time in 17 years, a conviction of these perpetrators was upheld. Indeed, many of us left with the hope that the lot of women around the world might actually improve as, in small increments, they become empowered!
We were also able to browse and purchase jewelry and animals (clay creations) made by our Bhutanese and Nepalese friends, thanks to Lory Black’s clay classes at the Center for New Americans.