Women’s Rights in the Middle East Highlighted at the Toronto Film Festival

Women’s Rights in the Middle East Highlighted at the Toronto Film Festival


Women’s rights under a Shari’a regime, with the example of the Palestinian territories, are highlighted in a documentary about a judge presented at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).

“The Judge”, a biographical documentary of director Erika Cohn presented Monday in world premiere, based her script on the experience of Kholoud Al-Faqih, the first female judge in a Palestinian Islamic court. Nearly a decade after breaking the glass ceiling, Kholoud Al-Faqih believes that the road is still long for women’s rights in the Middle East.

“I personally am pleased with the pace of progress in Palestine, but I hope that the rest of the Middle East countries will accelerate their recognition of the rights of Arab women,” the magistrate told AFP.

In 2009, the judge upset the traditionalistsby appointing another woman, AsmahanWuheidi, as a judge in a religious court in Ramallah, bypassing many male candidates, to whom these posts are generally reserved.

The film traces the ongoing quest for justice for Palestinian women, while highlighting universal themes such as child custody, divorce and domestic violence. For her documentary, Erika Cohn had unprecedented access to the courts of the region, depicting life in the Palestinian territories through the Islamic judicial system.

The director hopes that the audience will be inspired by the character of Judge Al-Faqih. “She is a woman with a strong personality, and I think many people in the world will be able to identify with her,” according to Erika Cohn.

The head of Palestinian Islamic courts Sheikh Tayseer Al-Tamimi, who initiated the appointment of Kholoud Al-Faqih and his colleague AsmahanWuheidi, were forced to resign a year later. “Women are not treated in the same way in the face of the law,” he regrets in the film, suggesting a wind of change.

“We need a revolution in society,” Judge Al-Faqih said in the film in response to a question about the importance of gender equality in the region.

Source: Liberation