Religious courts in the Middle East had historically banned women from adjudicating domestic and family matters - in both the Shari'a courts of Islam and the Rabbinic courts of Judaism -until Kholoud Al-Faqih, dares to challenge that history. With the support of a progressive Sheik, Kholoud becomes the first woman judge with her appointment to a Palestinian Shari'a court in the West Bank, bringing a subtle new perspective garnered from her early professional life working with battered women as an attorney in both the criminal and Shari'a courts.
THE JUDGE, a new documentary film from Salt Lake City-based and Emmy-winning director
Erika Cohn, chronicles Kholoud's appointment, her first years as a judge, and her tenacious ability to maintain her position despite attempts to marginalize and demote her. Through Kholoud' s eyes, the film examines the religious and legal stipulations between men and women according to Shari'a law, relaying how the worst aspects of misinterpreted Shari'a laws reflect a tragic misogyny - rape, beatings, and polygamy - stemming from misconstrued ignorance of the Qur'an. As Kholoud's most compelling cases develop in gripping cinema verite style, the film reveals precisely the kinds of misinterpretations of Shari'a law that Kholoud now has the power to correct.
With unparalleled access and a critical cinematic eye, THE JUDGE follows Kholoud in and outside of the courtroom as she asserts her right to equality and redefines how Shari'a law perceives, treats, and respects women. Illustrating a unique portrait of her sustained intervention, THE JUDGE reveals that Shari'a is a system largely mischaracterized both in the Middle East and in the West. Amid a time of rapidly increasing global Islamophobia and the unprecedented Muslim Ban -THE JUDGE reflects a universal struggle for women's control over their bodies, economic welfare, custodial rights, and marital status.