I was always fascinated by the characteristics of law on how it transforms and develops a society into an ever-changing organised one and the keen desire to assist other's regarding human rights which are only possible through further understanding of human relations, and the society made me want a career in this discipline. I strongly believe studying law will give me the opportunity to know and explore more about the structures and features of the society on how it is being operated and controlled.
Being a student of laws at North South University, I attempted to explore some basic barriers for Bangladeshi girls when they even think of studying law. Unfortunately I also had to come through some unpleasant experiences. Conceitedly Bangladesh has the privilege to offer full law degree at all levels. There is very limited record available about the originality of LLB degree but history suggests that the first Law degree was awarded from the medieval universities in 11th century. However, University of Oxford and University of Cambridge are considered to be the first universities to offer fully recognised LLB degree in 17th century. Nowadays law is a professional degree with high demand by almost every sector of employment and is being studied almost every corner of the world.
Unfortunately, the circumstances of legal education for girls in Bangladesh are unappreciated both by the parents and well-wishers. To clarify how it is unappreciated a real life experience of mine is worth sharing. Soon after the completion of my HSC exams, I frequently faced with questions from my knowns and relatives regarding my admission into a university. On a particular day, one of my neighbourhood gentlemen asked me my plan of higher education. 'Medicine or Engineering' was something he was expecting from me but, I am sorry, I failed to make him happy with my prompt reply to his query. 'Laws' undoubtedly was an unexpected response from my part to that gentleman. His shocked face immediately signalled like he had just heard of death news. He, with utter disbelief and surprise equally, repeated my answer with a question mark in the end---'Laws!?... Why?' I couldn't reply him that time because my mouth could not produce any sound, perhaps.
Our society wants to bind girls within some specific disciplines--- Medicine, Bio-Technology, Literature, and perhaps some other. This is because girls, here, are grown up in a restricted environment which is imposed by their family. The term 'freedom of career choice' remains beyond their reach within such a specific class of society which is fond of masculinity. Government fails to provide proper security of a girl child. It is therefore the responsibility of the family to provide adequate security for their daughters or sisters by accommodating them into a medical college or in a discipline where politics is less involved. This love and care of families is appreciated and respected but this is completely responsible for depressing girls from facing the reality on their own.
'Learning of how to swim is impossible unless you jump into water'. Women here are often seen to stay away from reality. At early ages girls pass time by making a dream and at middle ages they have to pass time by recalling memory of making that dream in early life and by repenting of not being able to fulfil it. I wanted to study laws because I considered myself deprived of getting a life of freedom. I believe, by studying laws, I will be well-informed about my rights, my responsibilities for the society and the state. And I could be especially the one who would protect girls from the deprivation of their right to freedom of choice, at least. The LLB degree will offer me a wide range of career opportunity, not only of an advocate or barrister, but also I will be able to pick out a suitable one from other areas--- maybe teacher, legal consultant, judge, human rights activist, etc.
Bangladeshi female law graduates have already conquered the world. Irene Khan, former secretary general of Amnesty International and present chancellor of University of Salford, is a living example of successes as a female legal student. Barrister Turin Afroz, professor of BRAC University, is a reputed public figure in Bangladesh while Barrister Tania Amin gained popularity by her profound knowledge of reasoning. All these names are a great source of inspiration to prefer the legal area. I took my first inspiration of studying laws from my father. I was also heavily inspired by Dr Heather N Goldsmith, Chairman of department of laws of North South University. For me 'Laws' is the most suitable discipline, but for other girls 'Drama' might be her preference. But the foremost thing is to ensure girls freedom of choice to be well-enlightened. Let them fly in their own sky, they will be proved brilliant, they will bring the success the society expects from them.
Sanjida Afroz Rifah is a law student of North South University. Email: [email protected]