Afghan judge finds new beginning in B.C. after fleeing Taliban-ruled country

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UBC’s law school has launched a first-of-its-kind-in-Canada program aimed at helping Afghan women judges who were forced to flee their country.

In 2021, the Taliban regained control over Afghanistan, putting the future of many law-focused Afghan women in doubt.

“I feared for my life,” said former Afghan judge Bibi Wahida Rahimi.

“But the most important was the fear for our freedom, fear for my dignity and the right to work.”

Humanitarian efforts led by members of the international legal community helped Rahimi and other Afghan women judges successfully evacuate the country.

Despite losing her career and being forced to leave loved-ones behind, Rahimi always kept hope alive.

“There’s always something good happening and we have to look for it,” said the mother of three young boys.

A few months ago, that opportunity arrived for Rahimi at UBC’s law school in the Afghan Women Judges Program.

“We wanted to create an opportunity for judges, women judges from Afghanistan who were forced to flee when the Taliban returned to power,” said UBC law professor Graham Reynolds.

He says the program, largely funded by donations, focuses on English language training and the Canadian legal system.

“They can, should they wish, be able to transition into a number of different legal roles in Canada,” said Reynolds.

There are currently three women enrolled in the program, but the school plans to expand enrollment in the future.

Rahimi, who lives with her husband and three sons in Burnaby, says she’s excited for the journey ahead and looks forward to the future of her children growing up in Canada.

“I always tell them life is about exploring,” said Rahimi. “It’s about changes. So trying to figure out how to survive, how to live and how to enjoy life in every different geographical place you are.”

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