Saturday, January 20, 2007

Sister in Law

Channel Four tonight showed a fascinating documentary about women working in Cameroon's legal system called Sisters in Law.

It follows various lawyers, police officers and judges as they seek to redress the balance in a patriarchal society, where there hasn't been a conviction for domestic violence in 17 years.

Following stories of rape, spousal abuse, child abuse and so forth made hard watching at times, but the women fighting to change things are remarkable and there are beautiful moments of human nature at its best; moments between mother and child, moments when a man from a church becomes the saviour of an abused child, moments when the child is reunited with family and the joyful celebration of a group of Muslim women discovering for the first time that they might just have some rights.

One of the women featured reminds me facially of my friend M. The documentary confirms her take on the plight of women in the Cameroon and the prevalence of the opinion that is just fine and dandy for a man to beat his wife.

Sadly it would seem it is an opinion that has travelled to these shores with some of her fellow ex-pat friends. The husband has been it seems, in the habit of beating his wife, as he perceived was his right. M I understand put him right on this, as only she could. She may only be a slip of a thing, but she has an iron will of the like rarely seen, quite a formidable force when in full flow.

Accordingly, I'm not too surprised that the threat she apparently delivered to him that the next time he laid a hand on his wife, she'd beat the living crap out of him in return, appears to have done the trick.

So tonight I drink a toast to the feisty women of the Cameroon.

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