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Refugee Salina became a lawyer: ”Nobody believed in my dream”

When she was 12, refugee Salina Jamah decided to be a lawyer. Now she is 30, and has just been recognised as fully qualified. In a new language, in a new country. And she couldn't be any happier.
Kristianstad/Hässleholm • Publicerad 21 december 2022 • Uppdaterad 22 december 2022
Salina Jamah, advokat.
Salina Jamah, advokat.Foto: Mikael Persson

Her eyes are shining. It's as if she hasn't yet realised that she has fulfilled her life's ambition. Since October Salina Jamah has been able to call herself a lawyer. Getting there has been hard, but she is driven by something absolutely fundamental: an experience she would really have preferred not to have.

– Everything I experienced as a child, with war, bombs, but also honour killings and that we girls could not live our own lives, has made me passionate about human rights.

En välläst Svea Rikes Lag som nyblivna advokaten Salina Jamah lärt sig hitta i.
En välläst Svea Rikes Lag som nyblivna advokaten Salina Jamah lärt sig hitta i.Foto: Mikael Persson

At first the wish to become a lawyer was a desire to help herself. Now her dream - and her reality - is to help others. ¨Not many people believed in her dream. Admittedly her parents and teachers admired the girl's ambition, but in reality - what would that look like? She had hardly gone to school before she came to Sweden, she didn't know any English, she didn't know much about maths.And then there was Swedish, of course.

”Salina Jamah”
”It was an amazing feeling, but unreal, a glimpse of what male and female rights are”
Att ha nått sitt livs mål redan vid 30 är något Salina Jamah knappt vågar tro på. Om hon tänker ta det lugnt framöver? Knappast.
Att ha nått sitt livs mål redan vid 30 är något Salina Jamah knappt vågar tro på. Om hon tänker ta det lugnt framöver? Knappast.Foto: Mikael Persson

– I got a shock when I started studying law, that language isn't normal Swedish, she laughs today.

Salina's family are Yazidis, a minority in Iraq. When war broke out they had to leave Mosul and move to a little village along with other Yazidis. Her father, an engineer, was threatened and harassed, and was forced to leave the country, leaving his wife and seven children behind.

– These years were hard. We had to help our mother as best we could, Salina tells us.

Salina Jamah fick jobb direkt efter examen 2019.
Salina Jamah fick jobb direkt efter examen 2019.Foto: Mikael Persson

When she was 12 she came to Sweden and Hässleholm. And soon found out that the ingrained differences in what boys and girls were allowed to do did not exist here.

– It was an amazing feeling, but unreal, a glimpse of what male and female rights are.

Salina realised she would have to study hard to have a chance. The first step was to get a place in the upper secondary school, where she studied on the social studies programme at Linnéskolan. The next step was to gain grades high enough for her to be accepted on the law degree course.

Salina Jamah är stolt över sig själv, över att hon klarat av att bli advokat när nästan ingen annan trodde på henne.
Salina Jamah är stolt över sig själv, över att hon klarat av att bli advokat när nästan ingen annan trodde på henne.Foto: Mikael Persson

– I improved my grades, I struggled so hard, I refused to give up. It was easy for me to pay no attention to what my classmates did in their spare time. It's worse to be drawn into a war, to see people being killed and women who are suffering.

Her first application was not accepted, nor was her second, but she was able to follow a few independent law courses and preparatory studies until she was finally accepted in 2015, in Stockholm.

Salina graduated as a lawyer in 2019, and celebrated by crying for happiness for months. Not only that, she found a job straight away as a junior. lawyer at Kristianstad Advokatbyrå.

– I had succeeded in doing what everyone else thought was impossible..That was the best feeling.

Her aim has always been to work with the law as it affects people. That is what she has worked with so far, for example cases involving immigration, child custody and criminal cases. Complicated cases with people in a difficult situation.

Att veta att jag kan göra skillnad för andra människor. Och en stor glädje i att jag fått möjligheten i ett tryggt land som erbjudit mig allt., säger Salina Jamah
Att veta att jag kan göra skillnad för andra människor. Och en stor glädje i att jag fått möjligheten i ett tryggt land som erbjudit mig allt., säger Salina JamahFoto: Mikael Persson

The fact that she is fluent in three different forms of Arabic means that she does not need to use an interpreter. This has made her an asset in the office and she is proud to be able to make use of her whole background in her work.

Considering all the work she has had to do to become qualified, she ought to have a lot of spare time now. So what happens next?

– I don't know. I'm not used to having any spare time. I must come to earth and make the most of it, I suppose. Then I'll get involved in organisations that work for human rights and women's rights.

No plans for lazing around on the sofa, in other words. What is the force that drives you?

– Knowing that I can make a difference for others . And a great feeling of happiness that I've been given the opportunity in a safe country that has provided me with everything.

Åsa CarlssonSkicka e-post
Så här jobbar Mosaik Kristianstadsbladet med journalistik: uppgifter som publiceras ska vara korrekta och relevanta. Vi strävar efter förstahandskällor och att vara på plats där det händer. Trovärdighet och opartiskhet är centrala värden för vår nyhetsjournalistik.