Opening 13 Sep 2007
Two women in Cameroon are making waves. The documentary Sisters in Law, which has already won several documentary film prizes, follows Judge Beatrice Ntuba and prosecuting attorney Vera Ngassa through three cases in which two little girls and one woman are the victims of physical abuse in the home. A very brave example is Amina who takes her (Muslim) husband to court although this has never been done before in Kumba in southwestern Cameroon. If she had lost the case, she would have been sent back to her family, who never understood her not accepting her fate, and she may very well have been killed. Amina's winning the case is a success story for all women in the country who, until Ngassa and Ntuba came along, were expected to tolerate beatings and rape by their husbands.
The documentary is very factual but also shows the empathetic side of the sisters in law. They even feel a certain amount of compassion toward the abusers. In other words, they work for a cause: not to show their own power, but to turn their community into a better place. In spite of the harshness we see, there is still the bright light of Africa to observe: the typical street scenes of a small West African city and the closeness of family and friends. I saw the film in pidgin English and Hausa with German subtitles. (Thelma Freedman)