It's not a question but I wanted to share my thoughts on the subject, starting with congratulating Raffia Arshad firstly on what has clearly been a very successful career as a barrister, secondly on becoming a Deputy District Judge (especially bearing in mind that only 6% of judges in England and Wales identify as BAME) and thirdly for becoming one of the first hijab-wearing judges and smashing so many stereotypes in one go! Now I must admit, Raffia's wearing of the hijab is in and of itself irrelevant to me. I am in fact one of those people that thinks it is hugely unhelpful to suggest that there is some symbiotic relationship between the headscarf and Muslim women. Not all Muslim women wear a hijab and that does not make them any less Muslim and it is very important we celebrate the diversity of Muslim women! Having said that, I also know that there are many Muslim women and girls, hijab-wearing or not, who can now see themselves have a successful career in law and can see themselves becoming a part of the judiciary. Raffia being a headscarf-wearing judge is not just about the hijab. It is not just that hijab-wearing Muslim women and girls will no longer feel as if their choice to wear a headscarf will limit their career choices. Rather it also shows that the legal profession and judiciary is open to all and your gender, ethnicity and religiosity is not a hindrance. Of course there are still hurdles and barriers which need to be addressed (gender pay gap, ethnic pay gap, unconscious bias, sexual harassment in the workplace)... but change is happening. So congratulations Raffia - and thank you, for being a wonderful role model to female BAME Muslims who can now see it as a possibility to follow in your footsteps!
 

9 Comments

  • MeowZee

    24/07/2020

    This is a win not just for the legal profession and judiciary but the wider justice system as well! It's affirmation that we can shatter glass ceilings, we just need to keep going! Congratulations Raffia, keep shining!

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  • Anonymous

    29/05/2020

    I have been struggling a lot around whether I should take my hijab off or not. I have been applying for lots of legal jobs and not getting anywhere and I genuinely feel like it is because I am visibly Muslim. It has been getting me really down and making me feel like I have wasted four years getting a law degree and LPC. But knowing that Raffia Arshad persisted despite the odds, gives me courage to carry on. If it is meant to be then it will be but I will not compromise who I am for it.

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  • Shameem

    05/06/2020

    This made me happy! Amazing achievement by strong positive role models!!! I donít know Raffia but I feel so proud!!!!!

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  • Zarah.A

    31/05/2020

    It is an absolute amazing achievement for a woman from a BAME background to become a Deputy District Judge let alone one that wears a headscarf! It's amazing that we have such a positive role model hitting the headlines - it will give young girls (especially those who come from a BAME background or wear hijab) hope and the drive to be able to smash those glass ceilings. Clearly anything is possible! I myself am a hijab wearing solicitor (although I started wearing a headscarf after I had completed my degree), and know from personal experience how difficult it was to overcome obstacles and many many negative comments (even from my own family members). The legal profession is definitely becoming more diverse, although there is still a long road ahead - onwards and upwards!

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  • Anonymous

    29/05/2020

    I am so so happy that a visibly Muslim woman has hit the headlines in such a positive way! I totally agree with what you have said about the diversity of Muslim women and yes this would be amazing news regardless of whether she wears hijab or not but this is such a win especially when hijabis are portrayed so often as oppressed! GO RAFFIA!

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  • Anonymous

    29/05/2020

    I second what Anonymous at 7.42pm has said. I was also feeling uneasy because I was trying to reconcile feeling proud for Raffia with feeling as if Khatun was being ignored but you've put me at ease now. This isn't about 'hijab' but much more than that. Well done Raffia, may you continue to succeed.

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  • GrannyBibi

    29/05/2020

    Smashing stereotypes indeed! It was lovely reading about positive news about a Muslim woman for a change. Not one painting us as submissive and weak or angry and problematic. I did feel sad reading about how she still gets mistaken as a client or interpreter which shows there is still a long to go but hopefully her recent achievement will be the first step to addressing the stereotypes. I think I read somewhere that she has plans to address these things and I would love to hear more. Congratulations Raffia!

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  • Anonymous

    29/05/2020

    I wanted to be a lawyer but I come from a very conservative family. One of their reasons for stopping me from doing a law degree was that I wouldn't be able to succeed becoming a lawyer wearing a hijab and so there is no point in wasting time doing a law degree in something I cannot pursue. There were other concerns of course, like how can I have a family if I am working long hours and what will my future in-laws think if I am free-mixing with men. There are always 100 reasons why women cannot do something but I am glad that at least the hijab excuse is now gone!

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  • Anonymous

    29/05/2020

    You know what, you've said it perfectly. I was actually a bit unhappy/uneasy about all the headlines focusing on this judge wearing a hijab because I just felt like it was ignoring the achievements of all other Muslim women who have successfully become judges, such as Khatun Sapnara. It almost felt like the headlines were saying 'look a Muslim woman is finally a judge' as if all the others before Raffia Arshad weren't 'proper' Muslims but you are right - this is much more than that. And you are right, regardless of what she wears or not, this is a massive achievement for a fellow Muslim sister and we should be proud of her! Congratulations Raffia Arshad - we are proud of you!

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