Women’s rights to the fore in Ritzy film festival

Khadija shooting the women guests

Women’s rights are at the forefront of film as part of the Ritzy’s Human Rights Watch Film festival.

The Ritzy is showing the UK premiere of Moroccan documentary Camera / Woman, which tells the story of Khadija, a Moroccan divorcee who works as a camera woman at wedding parties in Casablanca. Khadija’s divorce is the cause of much gossip around town while her mother and brother desperately want her to re-marry and stop working, despite the fact she is the family’s sole breadwinner.

Divorce remains a controversial topic in Morocco, Karima explains. “In Morocco divorced women are the subject of gossip and often referred to as prostitutes; this film explores recent changes in the law and public perception,” the documentarian tells. Reforms to the Moudawana (family code) in 2004 have made divorce a more viable option for women, however society remains very damning of divorcees.

Before 2004 divorce cases could stay in court for ten, even 20 years. “Previously women had to prove they were mistreated by their husband and they were obliged to pay their husbands, so essentially they needed to buy their freedom back,” Karima says.
The amendment has created a new generation of divorced women who continue to struggle with day-to-day difficulties, namely family pressures and finances, Karima says.

“Parents still put pressure on their daughters to stay married but young women have different views and they don’t want to live in an unhappy marriage.” Generally women filing for divorce waive any alimony and must financially support their children and families independently. “Women asking for divorce must accept this “punishment” as though it were the fair price to pay to simply enjoy this freedom,” Karima tells.

The film was born from an idea to capture Moroccan weddings, which in line with growing conservative attitudes are now often celebrated with men and women attending two separate events. The female-only wedding parties thus created new opportunities for women to work as wedding photographers, which was how Khadija’s career began, post divorce.

“I have never stopped being concerned with the extraordinary complexity of women’s condition in Morocco,” Karima says. “Camera/Woman aims to show the numerous obstacles facing women, obstacles set by a Moroccan society that gets poorer and more conservative every day.”
For the UK premiere of filmmaker Karima Zoubir’s first feature film she’ll be traveling from her home in Casablanca to Brixton for a Q&A following the screening.

The Human Rights Watch Film festival is running at the Ritzy, Brixton Oval, SW2 1JG, from March 15-22. Camera/Woman is being screened on March 19 at 6:15pm. Admission: £10.50 /£9.50 Concession/ £8.50 members. Phone: 0871 902 5739 http://www.picturehouses.co.uk

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