Magazine article New Internationalist

Sisters in Law

Magazine article New Internationalist

Sisters in Law

Article excerpt

Film

Sisters in Law

directed by Kim Longinotto and Florence Ayisi

Surprising, engrossing, heartening... probably not qualities you'd expect of a documentary about a judge and prosecutor in a state court. But Vera Ngassa and Beatrice Ntuba wield serious power - and use it well.

'Men and women are equal in this country,' says Beatrice, speaking as president of the court. Maybe so, in law. But it clearly isn't generally so in her district of Kumba, Cameroon. In a traditional patriarchal society - and in often extraordinary and traumatic circumstances - Beatrice and prosecutor Vera use the law to protect women and children. Manka, six years old, is scarred all over her body and legs. Sonita, aged nine, slowly tells of her imprisonment and rape. Amina is afraid her husband will kill her if she returns home. Directors Longinotto and Ayisi patiently and respectfully show us their unravelling stories from the time the complainants first appear in Vera'S office and she sends out her police officers - men and women - to bring people in for her to question. …

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