Raffia Arshad, a Muslim woman has become the first hijab-wearing judge in the UK. The law veteran, 40 was appointed a deputy district judge on the Midlands circuit last week, following a 17-year career in law.
For Arshad, a career in law has been a dream nurtured from early childhood from about age 11, however she grew up questioning if there would be ‘people who looked like me’ and if a working-class woman from an ethnic minority background could one day become a high ranking figure in a western society.
She said that she hopes to encourgae other young Muslim women within the legal profession to follow her lead, and “make sure the sound of diversity is heard loud and clear and that it gets to the appropriate places”. ‘It’s odd because it’s something I’ve been working towards for a number of years and I always imagined I’d be absolutely ecstatic when I found out. ‘I was happy, but the happiness I’ve had from other people sharing this is far greater.” “I’ve had so many emails from people, men and women. It’s the ones from women that stand out, saying that they wear a hijab and they thought they wouldn’t even be able to become a barrister, let alone a judge.’ She added to Metro UK,” the Midlands-based judge said.
Her family though that chances of success would dramatically decrease if she wore it, her relative warned her – but she refused to take their advice.
She said: ‘I decided that I was going to wear my headscarf because for me it’s so important to accept the person for who they are and if I had to become a different person to pursue my profession, it’s not something I wanted.” The Midlands-based judge added: ‘So, I did, and succeeded in the interview. I was given a considerable scholarship. I think that was probably one of the most profound first steps in my career. It was a solid “yes, you can do this.” Raffia Arshad however revealed she still encounters discrimination and prejudice “sometimes on a daily basis”. “It’s definitely bigger than me, I know this is not about me,” she told Metro.