Salma Ali

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 1992
Bangladesh National Women Lawyers Association (BNWLA)


This profile was prepared when Salma Ali was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1992.
The New Idea
Salma Ali is spearheading a legal movement of dedicated volunteer lawyers who are releasing "safe custody girls" from prisons and providing legal assistance to women prisoners under trial. She is the only advocate for these women, who have been put into "safe custody" in jail because they have no family or visible outside support system. Since the court (not the woman) decides that protective custody serves the woman's best interest, Salma feels that this is a violation of a young woman's most basic human rights. For those young women whose families she cannot locate, she assists them in finding an independent and secure place in society. She has located a series of transition homes for these girls where they can receive legal and other counseling and participate in training programs designed to promote their economic independence.
Finally, Salma is using her experience to record and analyze information on this previously neglected group of women. During the legal cases, monitoring, survey, and research are conducted in the jails. With this documentation and analysis, Salma hopes to influence policy makers and lawyers to change the laws and conditions that allow young, abandoned women to be imprisoned against their will.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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