India’s First Advocate
November 15 marked the birth anniversary of Cornelia Sorabji who was India’s first woman advocate.This yearNovember 15, 2017 marks 151st Birth Anniversary and google doodle pays tribute to her. The doodle with Sorabji in front of the Allahabad High Court, where she started her career as pleader.
Sorabji was born in Nasik on November 15 in the year 1866 to Reverend Sorabji Karsedji and Francina Ford. She was the first woman to graduate in law from India as early as 1892 and the first Indian national to attend a British.
Her parents Reverend Sorabji Karsedji and Francina Ford were advocates of women's education and established several girls' schools in Pune. They encouraged Cornelia to take higher studies, and she went on to become the first woman to be graduated from Bombay University.She was one of their nine children. She got a lot of encouragement from her parents to take up higher studies. Her parents were advocates of women education and had established many girls' school in Pune. Despite topping her graduating class, she was allegedly denied scholarship to study in England. Sorabji petitioned to the National Indian Association to help her in completing her higher education. Many reputed people funded her education in Britain, including Mary Hobhouse, Adelaide Manning, and Florence Nightingale. She graduated in law from the Sommerville College in Oxford University in the year 1892.
After graduating from Oxford University in Law, Sorabji returned to India and began providing legal support to women known as purdahnashins. Purdahnashins were forbidden from communicating with men in accordance with the religious texts. Such women had lots of property but couldn't defend themselves legally as back then all the lawyers were males. In the year 1904, Sorabji was appointed the Lady Assistant to the Court of Wards of Bengal after she had petitioned for female legal representatives for women and minors in court.Finally, in 1924, Indian women were allowed to fight cases in the court. It is believed that Sorabji helped over 600 women and children in their legal battle; often she rendered her services free of cost. She also authored short stories, articles and her autobiography Between the Twilights. She retired from high court in 1929 and passed away on July 6, in the year 1954 at her London home.
She has published two autobiographies India Calling: The Memories of Cornelia Sorabji, and India Recalled, a biography of her parents, and numerous articles on Purdahnashins. She published her experiences with the women of Purdah in both fiction and non-fiction accounts. Her book, Purdahnashins told about the stories of the women she defended with had the proceeds go to their welfare. She held a deep respect for Hindu culture and was critical of those who sought to change it without a familiarity with its customs. The main source of inspiration was her mother who taught her the valuable lesson she could learn at the age of eight was that, “there was nothing to fear but Fear.”