“The Judge” provides a rare insight into Shari’a law, an often-misunderstood legal framework for Muslims, told through the eyes of the first woman judge to be appointed to the Middle East’s religious courts. An old Chief Justice remembers that, when she was only a young lawyer, Kholoud Al-Faqih walked into his office and announced one day she would have joined the bench. He laughed at her. But just a few years later, Kholoud was the first woman to become a judge in the Shari’a courts, despite the strong opposition from the most conservative judges. They declared that a man is a better judge than a woman, just because “a man can divide his mind from his heart,” and a woman can’t. And moreover, women “give birth, are pregnant, bleed”, so they are not able to do such a difficult job. In the process, the film illuminates some of the universal conflicts in the domestic life of Palestine—custody of children, divorce, abuse—while offering an unvarnished look at life for women under Shari’a law.
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