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Space For Rent
Monday, December 8, 2014, Agrahayan 24, 1421, Safar 14, 1436 Hijr


Interview
Chaumtoli Huq, a star attorney for the needy South Asian immigrants
Asmaul Husna
Published : Monday, 8 December, 2014,  Time : 12:00 AM,  View Count : 172
The pioneer attorney of South Asian community in America, Chaumtoli Huq, who is devoted to provide legal facilities to the low income immigrants of South Asian community in America, is in the city now for a research regarding workers' condition in RMG sectors.
Though born in Dhaka, in 1971, during the severe violence of the war of liberation, she was moved to New York with her mother in 1972.
She graduated from Columbia University, 1993, in Political Science. After that she commenced to work at Sakhi for South Asian Women, an anti-domestic violence organisation that works with the women of South Asian community, where she used to assist underprivileged women to file lawsuits. Most of them were low income immigrants particularly labourer, domestic workers who were the victim of unfair means. However they couldn't present their cases properly due to ignorance. Chaumtoli started to help them and while helping them she realised legal procedures are so complex that it's beyond the workers capacity to understand. Moreover, she felt that justice had not been done with the victims. This realisation triggered her mind to study law and she studied law from North Eastern University, Boston, in 1997.  
Her first project, South Asian Worker's Rights Project, has become very effective for the immigrant workers who couldn't raise their voice while injustice was done to them. Chaumtoli is the first attorney from Bangladesh who can communicate with the workers in Bangla and it was very helpful for the workers. She found that many victims are living with the abusers because of economic dependence. She helped them to raise voice for their rights legally and to get justice. She provides law facilities for humanitarian cause and it's free of charge. The project runs from funding and grants.
She is working tirelessly in this field for fifteen years. Some of her success stories are being highlighted to the media including New York Times and some are not. Her effort and continuation of work is going on.
She claimed herself a feminist. She shared with The Daily Observer that feminism as an idea is not only related with female. It is equally related with male too. It's a doctrine which reflects that there shouldn't be any stereotyped idea for male and female. It frees both men and women from orthodox idea as they are expected to behave differently for their gender.
"Any person who sends a daughter at school, is doing a feminist act," she quoted. Regarding this her grandmother, Rowshan Ara Saleheen Khan, is an ideal figure to her who established first girls' school in the rural areas of Noakhali.  
Currently, she is the top attorney of New York as well as very competent. For her gender she faced many hurdles, competing with the white counterparts, though she is living in the topmost civilised country of the world. She always desired to break away the stereotyped doctrine of the society and works harder for that.
She is fighting for human right inconsistently. Many argue that why she is restricting herself in only working for South Asian community and why not working for all low income migrant community. Regarding this she clarified her position boldly. She has an affinity with the South Asian community for having similar race and culture. Moreover, they are also in need of her help. As a result, she is serving the low-income immigrants devotedly. Her initiative has inspired other communities to create their own platform.
Her inspirational leaders are Begum Rokeya, for promoting girls' education, Rabeya Basri, in terms of faith and a first female sufi, Angela Davis, an American political activist, scholar and author.
Her favourite authors are Bell Hooks and Arundhati Roy.
She has an adorable daughter and a son who are the centre of her life. Her husband is a very caring and understanding nature which helps her to pursue a philanthropic career.
Now, she is a Senior Research Fellow at American Institute for Bangladesh Studies (AIBS) and staying in Bangladesh for one year and continuing her research work on ensuring safe workplace for the garment workers.
Her future plan is to establish a platform between the community of lawyers of America and Bangladesh.









Editor : Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury
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