An online program was held to celebrate the 83rd birth anniversary of late barrister Salma Sobhan on Monday
“Research is needed to preserve the life and ideology of social worker and human-rights activist barrister Salma Sobhan and the lessons she left for us.”
The comments above were made in an online program celebrating the 83rd birth anniversary of late barrister Salma Sobhan on Monday evening.
The online program was addressed by ASK founding member Dr Hameeda Hossain, Brac University CPJ Senior Advisor Dr Faustina Pereira, Brac HRLS head Shahariar Sadat, and Salma Sobhan's son and Dhaka Tribune Editor Zafar Sobhan. The program was moderated by Rights Center Chairperson Motahar Akand.
Akhand Mihir Faiyaz read out events from the childhood of Salma Sobhan from the books of her brother and sister.
Gohan Shuvomitra from Bangladesh and singer Sanjay from West Bengal presented music for the birthday celebration.
Dr Faustina expressed her working experience with barrister Salma, saying that she is as relevant now as she was before -- probably even more.
“A lot of research needs to be done to preserve her life, work and the lessons she left behind. I am glad to know that a Bangladeshi researcher in an Australian University has taken the life, work, effect, and impact of the work of Salma Sobhan as PhD topic.
“The sub-continent’s first female barrister had the ability of dealing with a difficult matter in an easy way, which is really phenomenal. Her vision helped to enrich human rights and women’s rights organizations in multiple ways. We are all influenced by that vision,” she added.
Shahariar Sadat said: “Following the law learning program undertaken by Salma Sobhan, Brac started para-legal programs across the country. It may not have been possible had she not started the initiative in 1986. In 2019, Brac provided legal aid to 32,000 women through the legal aid program.”
Regarding his mother, Zafar Sobhan said: “During the pandemic, I came across a post in social media which asked that if you had the chance to stay with one noble person from history, who would you chose? Some answered Newton, others answered Galileo, and there were many other names too. My choice was my mother.
“She was the same person in her personal and professional life. She was always the same person ... She set a great example, showing how to behave with and respect those that are around you. She showed how you must treat every person with respect and dignity, even those that come knocking at your door for help,” he added.
Dr Hameeda Hossain, who had a long working experience with barrister Salma Sobhan, said: “We cannot forget Salma.
“Salma never did like working in courts. She thought the system was too artificial. She was more interested in improving the value system of the society. She thought that perhaps the courts can change a few individuals, but the whole of society needed much more. Salma always had such thoughts. At the time, nobody believed in providing free legal aid; lawyers were charging huge fees. So, she stepped up to provide legal aid to those that needed it most, women in particular,” she said.
“When we were working together, she often lead but never bothered to show anyone that she was the leader. That’s the kind of person she was,” added Hameeda Hossain.
Born on August 11, 1937, Salma Sobhan became the first female barrister in Pakistan in 1959. She was also a member of the law faculty of the University of Dhaka and a co-founder of human rights organization Ain-O-Salish Kendra (ASK). She passed away on December 29, 2003.