Published: 27 May 2014

Country: Morocco

Deborah_Perkin_DocumentaryA woman living in Morocco who takes on tradition, her own family and her country’s legal system is the protagonist of the new documentary film “Bastards” by Deborah Perkin.

“Bastards” follows the life of Rabha who fights for the recognition of her forced marriage by the Moroccan state and most importantly the legalization of the status of her daughter. In Morocco and many other Muslim countries, children born outside marriage are illegal. These children bear the stigma of “bastard” for the rest of their lives.

The experienced and award-winning documentary film maker, Deborah Perkin, narrates the stories of other women who deal with the same problem as well. Their representation though is not by any means the stereotypical one. “My belief is that in the UK, we tend to see male Muslims as terrorists and women as veiled victims, unable to control their destiny. I wanted to show the Moroccan society as it is and that way bridge the gap of the stereotypes. Wearing a headscarf doesn’t mean that these women don’t swear”, said Deborah Perkin in an interview with Media Diversity Institute (MDI).

Indeed, in “Bastards” the female protagonists are seen swearing at their ex-husbands and discussing openly and with humour about traditionally taboo topics, such as sex, money and marriage. Was it easy for these women to open up to Deborah? “It was easy because I protected them. I agreed to hide the identities of any single mother who preferred to remain anonymous for the Moroccan audience. It is a taboo subject and these women are stigmatised. But they were dying to talk to me and tell me their stories” Deborah said.

Few minutes before our conversation, Ms Perkin has received the viewing numbers from the prominent Moroccan TV channel, 2M which broadcast her documentary. “I just got the viewing figures” she told me. “It is 31%! It is unbelievable. 2.600.000 people watched the documentary. It is absolutely huge!”

But how apparent is the issue of unwed mothers in Morocco? “Media have started to talk about this issue because of the women activists and their work. There were a few Oprah Winfrey kind of discussions about it on TV and some short reports. But a documentary about this acute problem is something new”, says Deborah.

“In Morocco, things are changing fast. It is not the perfect place to be but it is still much better than other countries. Afghanistan, Iran and Saudi Arabia refused to broadcast the documentary while Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya did not buy it. The good news is that “Bastards” will participate in the Women’s Film Festival in Afghanistan” Ms Perkin added.

“Bastards” is a moving and inspirational documentary film which shifts the stereotypical image of Muslim women. The film shows how strong women can be in a conservative society such as the top human rights lawyer, Lamia Faridi who helps Rabha to gain the legitimacy of her child and the activist, Aicha Chenna, who has been awarded for her actions as women’s rights advocate in Morocco.

“Bastards” will be released in the UK cinemas on 27th June 2014.