Kabul. Being a female Defense Lawyer can be a dangerous task in Afghanistan. Zulfia Zalmi (27) is one of the young Afghan female defense Lawyer. According to her, corruption is one of the major problems beside the death threats she receives when defend different cases. “Our society takes a negative view not only of female judges, prosecutors and defense lawyers, but also of all women who work outside their houses”, says Zulfia. The brave woman knows what she is talking about as she is facing discrimination on a daily basis. She is one of the few female defense lawyer in Afghanistan, in addition to be the Vice President of Afghanistan Independent Bar Association (AIBA) and the Head of Afghanistan AIBA’s Women Committee. “Now there are more than 350 female defense lawyers – this number has to increase”, says Zulfia. According to her, sometimes the lack of female defense lawyers, judges and prosecutors is a huge problem: Out of fear and shyness most women cannot talk about specific facts to men when it comes to referring to cases. Only in the presence of females, women feel comfortable enough sharing their issues. In Afghan society, women do understand the problems of other women better. This is why a bigger presence of female defense lawyer,prosecutors and judges is crucial and vital. Zulfia has handled so far many cases of victims of domestic abuses - including forced marriages, family-related issues, domestic violence after she received her working license from the AIBA. In addition to her daily work, she tries to educate herself further: she attended as trainer in a number of EUPOL training classes which were particularly organised for prosecutors. “Extremely useful for me and my colleagues were those focusing on the cooperation between police and prosecutors (CoPP). For me this was a new method to approach my work,” she says. Zulfia also delivers herself courses for prosecutors and judges on gender Justice In Afghanistan issues for more than 250 male and Female judges across Afghanistan.
She is fighting not only for a huger female presence in the court but also against prejudices deeply rooted in the conservative Afghan society: “People believe that women who work outside are involved in moral corruption. But the truth is that women can contribute a lot to the society. In particular, they are very much needed as judges, lawyers and prosecutors. I believe women working in offices or involved in community activities do play a key role in society’s development and what they do, is not against Islam “Sharia Law.” Zulfia feels extremely lucky that her family is supporting her: “Even my father always encouraged me to finish my education and become a legal expert.” Her husband is equally supportive: he also works as a Defense Lawyer and strongly encourages her to work side by side with him to support the people of Afghanistan. Zulfia has a wish, though for her small daughter “Bareen”: “I want her to study and get a higher education. I don’t want her to be raised in war like us. We should work hard to create a peaceful environment with implementing Rule of Law in our country. This is what we fight for!” Zulfia.