Know Your Rights! News: KYR inspires a film by Mariama Khan – Sutura: What Judges Need to Know about Rape and Justice in Senegal

The film can be ordered through youtube or by sending Mariama Khan an e-mail at

Savage Khan Camara
Abdoul Kareem Savage, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of The Gambia, with Gambian filmmaker Mariama Khan and Senegalese Law Professor Fatou Kiné Camara

Mariama Khan of The Gambia produced her first documentary under the auspices of KYR. It is entitled “Sutura: What Judges Need to Know about Rape and Justice in Senegal.” Khan’s film premiered at the November 2008 conference on “The Role of African Judiciaries in Promoting Gender Justice in Africa,” where it served as an introduction to the KYR initiative for judges attending from 24 African countries. This conference was organized by Partners in Gender Justice in Post-Conflict Societies, a group whose members include the International Legal Assistance Consortium, the United Nations Development Program, the United Nations Fund for Women, and the International Association of Women Judges. Brandeis University and the Ghanaian Judicial Service also collaborated in the planning of this conference.

“Sutura” features the voices of rape victims, lawyers, activists, and psychologists, all speaking about crimes of sexual violence in Wolof, a widely-spoken Senegalese language. The footage was collected during a KYR “community dialogue,” where citizens have the opportunity to speak about human rights issues in their own languages. The event was hosted by l’Association des Juristes Sénégalaises. Filmed testimony highlighted the reticence that rape victims have in reporting their crimes or pursuing their rapists due to the cultural value placed on sutura, “discretion.”

Legal experts interviewed in the film reported that Senegalese courts do not apply the international norms on gender equality and protection laid out in the various treaties signed by the Senegalese state, such as the Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of Women in Africa. Equally disturbing is the fact that judges rarely sentence those convicted of rape to the minimum sentences required by Senegal’s own domestic laws.

Khan has now started working with Prof. Fatou Kiné Camara on a KYR film on divorce and human rights in Senegal. She has recently been invited by the UN Development Program in Banjul, The Gambia, to give them a proposal on a film on violence against women in The Gambia. The proposal will contain a KYR community-dialogue approach.

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