'Sisters In Law': Justice for Women in Africa

A modest new documentary from the West African nation of Cameroon has been getting rave reviews at some of the world's most prestigious film festivals. It's an unlikely story of how two women are taking on crimes against women, often fighting deeply entrenched attitudes and a male-dominated power structure to find justice.

State prosecutor Vera Ngassa, left, and Court President Beatrice Ntuba.

hide captionState prosecutor Vera Ngassa, left, and Court President Beatrice Ntuba.

Vixen Films/Women Make Movies

The film Sisters in Law follows the saga of lawyer Vera Ngassa and judge Beatrice Ntuba as they prosecute crimes against women and girls — crimes long ignored by Cameroon's patriarchal society.

In one scene, Ngassa cross-examines a husband who defends beating his wife because, he says, she committed adultery. After a thorough brow-beating of the husband, she concludes that neither she nor the husband is convinced that any adultery took place at all.

In another key scene, Ngassa is the prosecutor and Ntuba in the trial of a man accused of raping a 10-year-old girl. It's a harrowing experience for the girl, who must stand just feet away from the man accused of tying her down and sexually assaulting her.

Sisters in Law premieres at New York's Film Forum next month.

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