With International Women’s Day on Sunday, Difret is a timely reminder of the discrimination, persecution and victimisation suffered by females around the world. Whilst the situation is hardly perfect in The West, women’s rights in Africa are often non-existent. And whilst legal systems exists in many countries, there are often customary laws which take precedence. Based on a true story in Ethiopia, Zeresenay Berhane Mehari’s film demonstrates the clash between tradition and desire for progress which affects many countries.
Hirut (Tizita Hage) is a 14 year old girl who is abducted on her way home from school by a group of men. After being rapeder she steals a gun and escapes the next morning. As she’s cornered by her captors, she shoots and kills her violator. When she’s arrested on the charge of murder, Meaza Ashenafi (Meron Getnet), the head of the Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association, vows to defend Hirut. However, she finds that the local police and government are not on her side and has to battle against the traditions of the village.
This case led to the law being changed in Ethiopia regarding abduction into child marriage, and Difret does a great job of portraying the situation faced my millions of young girls in Africa. There’s an impressive performance from Meron Getnet, who does a great job in portraying the strength and determination of Meaza Ashenafi. Production values can sometimes let African films down, but Difret looks as slick and assured as anything you’d find in your local cinema. Difret is a story that needs to be told, and told well it is.
Difret is in cinemas from Friday.