A survivor of honour based abuse, Saliha was once told that because she was blind and a woman, she could not have high aspirations. Recently named Woman of the Year in the 2015 Yorkshire Women of Achievement Awards, this ULaw student is proving an inspiration to all.
There were so many inspirational and deserving women, I still can’t believe I was chosen. I wasn’t expecting to get the young achiever award, let alone Woman of the Year. It is an honour and privilege and I hope it will help me raise awareness and get my message out there.
I am a survivor of honour based abuse. I come from a community which operates an honour system, which meant that everything in my life was controlled, from the phone calls I made, the books I read, to the friends I had I was also constantly told that due to my disability I would never be independent and would be forced to rely on my family. I was determined to break away from this. I now speak out about my experiences and raise awareness for victims and survivors of honour abuse and forced marriage. I am particularly interested in raising awareness for victims with a disability, as support for them is very limited. I gave evidence to the forced marriage commission in light of criminalisation and have spoken on these issues in Parliament
I’ve not let my blindness hold me back. There have been challenging times, but I have always been determined to overcome them. I have been lucky that support available at ULaw and my previous university has been fantastic. The students and staff have been great and always do what they can to help. If you are determined and work hard, you will achieve. There are challenging times, but no barrier is too big to overcome. I was once told that because I am blind and a woman, I could not have high aspirations. But here I am now and if I can do it, you can.
I would like to work in the field of criminal/human rights law. As well as the course, the probono opportunities at ULaw have given me some invaluable experience. I volunteer for No Going Back, a charity providing free legal representation to LGBT asylum seekers. I also volunteer at the Personal Support Unit at Leeds combined court, which is a charity providing support to litigants without legal representation in the civil and family courts. I hope to get involved in other probono schemes next year, time permitting. On a personal level, I am involved in a charity providing activity weekend breaks to young visually impaired people, where they organise activities such as sailing, canoeing and rock climbing. Organisations like these give young disabled people a chance to have fun and greatly increase their confidence.
Saliha is taking the part time GDL course at ULaw Leeds. Find out more about our wide range of postgraduate courses.
Beatrice Mtetwa has been called one of the bravest lawyers in Africa and is internationally recognised for her courage in championing human rights and free speech in Zimbabwe. She is well known for her defence of journalists and human rights workers in challenging extreme personal circumstances including harassment by state agents and physical assault.
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