In the words of Deeba Ayubi: “I am fighting a good fight and it's worth the sacrifice.”

Date: Monday, May 21, 2018

Deeba Ayubi. Photo: UN Women/Nangyalai Tanai
Deeba Ayubi. Photo: UN Women/Nangyalai Tanai

Deeba Ayubi, 27, is a women’s rights activist and defense lawyer with UN Women’s partner organization, Women for Afghan Women (WAW), which protects and supports survivors of violence. Ayubi is passionate about helping women and girls achieve a life free from all forms of violence, and dreams of becoming a judge.


Even as a kid, I wanted to become a judge. My father would call me ‘Judge Deeba’. Before his death (when I was six), he told my brothers to support me in achieving my dream.

Five years ago, I joined Women for Afghan Women (WAW), a civil society organization that supports and protects women’s rights, as a defense lawyer. Since then, I have taken on powerful individuals while trying to safeguard the rights of my clients. I represent clients in both civil and criminal cases that range from forced marriages to kidnapping, divorce, battery, family disputes and rape. My clients come from different parts of Afghanistan, and there is one similarity across all the cases: women and girls face violence at the hands of the husband and his family and other powerful individuals.

I knew I would be entering the legal profession, so I prepared for it for a long time. You can fight well when you enter any field with preparation. However, I still face unique challenges simply because I am a woman.

At the court, some attorneys and staff treat me with disdain, while others are obnoxious and aggressive. They sometimes call me at a short notice and ask me to bring both the perpetrator and my client to the court, when they know it is difficult. The perpetrators of violence, who are often the husband or his family members, constantly threaten me on their way to court and sometimes even refuse to come.

I have received threats from individuals warning me to stop defending my clients. Once, I received a threatening phone call, and the caller even knew where I was and what I was wearing. In another case, a perpetrator asked me to persuade his wife to drop the case against him. I told him that my job is to make women and girls aware of their rights and help them defend their rights.

Fighting for justice needs courage and stamina. I believe that I am fighting a good fight and it's worth the sacrifice.

I was very interested in religious subjects even as a kid and studying the religion has helped me realize that many of the illegal and traditional practices cannot be attributed to Islam. I understand that it is important to maintain and strengthen the foundation of family as an institution, but this should not be done at the cost of denying a woman her rights.

I try to help women whenever I can. For example, while waiting at the court, I walk up to women to see if I can help them with directions. I also speak to them about their rights and explain to them the court proceedings.

My battle for a life free from gender-based violence cannot be won just by me. I need to have alliances! I volunteer with a group of local activists where we speak with local elders and youth about the importance of education for girls and women, and their vital role in all walks of life.

My journey continues and one day I will become a judge.”