Independent Lens’ “The Judge” Introduces the Middle East’s First Female Shari’a Judge

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14 November 2018
The Judge
Courtesy of Amber Fares
"The Judge"
Premieres Monday, November 19 at 10:30 PM ET on PBS
(Check your local listings)
          Religious courts in the Middle East, including the Shari’a courts of Islam which adjudicate domestic and family matters, have traditionally banned women from serving as judges – until Kholoud Al-Faqih dared to challenge that history. In 2009, with the support of a progressive Sheikh, Kholoud became the first woman Shari’a judge in the Middle East with her appointment to a Palestinian Shari’a court in the West Bank. This is a portrait of a remarkable woman and an eye-opening look at an often-misunderstood culture.
The Judge
Courtesy of Amber Fares

          When she was a young lawyer, Kholoud Al-Faqih walked into the office of Palestine’s Chief Justice and announced that she wanted to join the bench. He laughed at her. But just a few years later, Kholoud defied the odds and made history. The Judge offers a unique portrait of Kholoud — her brave journey as a lawyer, her tireless fight for justice for women, and her drop-in visits with clients, friends, and family.

          With unparalleled access to the courts, The Judge presents an unfolding vérité legal drama, with rare insight into both Islamic law and gendered justice. 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 and an inspiring look at an unforgettable woman.


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