Maria (Rihane Khalil Alio) goes home from school way too early. This looks like a scene of just another teenager from Chad skipping class, but it’s actually because her school expelled her for being pregnant. She doesn’t know that her mother, Amina (Achouackh Abakar Souleymane) knows. Maria expresses her wish to abort the baby, which prompts Amina to slap her. Chad practices the kind of Islam that forbids abortions but allows fathers to order female genital mutilation for their daughters.
Female genital mutilation is a subject that appears occasionally on Lingui, The Sacred Bonds, a film that juggles a few big topics that find a connection with each other. The film is mainly about abortion, which obviously costs money, so there’s a lot here that assesses this fictionalized world’s economic gears. There are not a lot but enough avenues to get both money and abortions. So it shows us one way of getting that money. It shows Amina selling homemade stoves, which Maria does with her.
Critics have compared this to another recent abortion drama Never Rarely Sometimes Always, which is on one extreme side of critiquing patriarchy. While that other movie feels too harsh, this one doesn’t feel harsh enough. This is another film that has filler scenes, like its procrastinating from its mission. There’s also some continuation issues that make the emotional flow of the characters feel stunted on certain occasions. Nonetheless, for an abortion drama, there are moments of levity where women get the upper hand.