Review: Sisters in Law

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Prosecutor Vera Ngassa and Judge Beatrice Ntuba are determined to bring rapists, wife beaters and child abusers to justice. What is remarkable about their mission is that they are members of a mostly Muslim community in Cameroon’s city of Kumba, a place where women are considered second-class citizens. Thus, the frightened victims of a variety of abuse find themselves under intense pressure to remain silent.

Sisters in Law chronicles the valiant efforts of these two intrepid black women to coax incriminating testimony out of reluctant witnesses in order to put some pretty sick felons behind bars. With a camera rolling right in the courtroom, we get to see some fairly heartbreaking cases, such as the one involving a sexual assault on a young virgin by a neighbor who claims that the sex was consensual and that she was a prostitute.

Although the 25 year-old creep gives the prepubescent adolescent intimidating stares, she bravely recounts how he bound and gagged her before raping her repeatedly. Fortunately, Judge Ntuba is not swayed by his obvious lies, and she orders him shipped off to the penitentiary summarily.

Another case involves a badly battered housewife who helps set a precedent by making her husband the first person in town to be incarcerated for spousal abuse in over 17 years. Generating a range of emotions from compassion to outrage to satisfaction, Sisters in Law packs a powerful punch by exposing the evils of a patriarchal culture inclined to look the other way whenever men oppress women.

A first-rate female empowerment flick.

Excellent (4 stars)
Running time: 104 minutes
Studio: Women Make Movies

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