Aida El Kashef
Dates of residency: Mar 31 - May26
Lives and works: Cairo, Egypt
Education: Graduate of The High Cinema Institute in Cairo, Egypt
AIDA AT BAR
Liberated from the immediate sense of justice, a fictional Research team reopens a collective case of 4 women convicted of murdering their husbands. The various voices in the film expand the argument to question abstract legal norms, basic crime ~punishment notions and the development of state disciplinary strategies. Shifting between prison interviews, archival and original footage, this essay film moves freely in place and time with a focused gaze unto reopening the discourse of violence and counter-violence in our contemporary society.
This Feature documentary appropriates the principles of an essay film, as it launches an expanded investigation of a collective case of four women currently serving prison sentences for murdering their husbands. As variant as they are, the cases reflect a common narrative of human suffering and ethical dilemmas, which pushes us to question basic notions of human interactions and justice within our state apparatus. Ethical, legal and moral questions are constantly posed in the film, a consistent reminder to the audience that nothing is simple, nothing straightforward. Truth is like a multi-dimensional prism, refracting and reflecting the visible rainbow of light depending on the direction in which it is seen. Between the questions, the stories of the main characters always remain at the forefront. Subject's Background & idea: Towards the 80s and early 90s, a series of murders committed by women killing their husbands were reported in Egypt, their stories headlining local media for years. Several new cases were reported annually, forcing reporters to seek interviews with psychologists, sociologists and feminist activists in an attempt to understand the phenomena. The first reported case of a woman killing her husband dates back to as early as 1920. While there are cases told of prior to this date in Egyptian folklore, a significant statistical gap in data about this specific crime occurred between the 1920 and 1980. What became different in the occurrence of matricide (the act of killing one’s spouse) in the more recent cases was their frequency, the elaborate planning for the murders, the method of disposing of the bodies and the thought process behind the crimes. Studies show that until the early 2000s, Egypt ranked as the country with the third highest global percentage of wives killing their husbands in the world, with 84% of murder committed by women being matricide. However very little quantitative and qualitative data was ever available on the subject. Many studies have proposed different ex- planation in an attempt of making sense of this phenomenon. Theories proposed include, that the act is a result of the general socioeconomic malaise that has been affecting Egypt in the past 40 years, and changes in family dynamics and the process of shifting power structures resulting from increases in social mobility which backs to early 80s, especially mass migration that took place to the Gulf, along- side population growth and urbanization. Another school of thought suggests that these crimes are a reaction to the general incidence of increased violence against women domestically, socially and on a state level. Up until 2013, criminal laws did not acknowledge ‘harassment’.an anti harassment law has been issued but it does not include marital rape and harassment.Women face inequality when it comes to marital, family and criminal laws, laws that are often supported by social religious bodies in Egypt. In 2013, women took streets of Cairo hold- ing knives in protest of the daily violence they’re subjected to in the street, when they commune, at home, at school or work.