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