Lawyer Nadia Chowdhury has always wanted to do something for stray animals in Bangladesh; and making use of the Cruelty to Animals Act 1920 was her chance to contribute.
She was lucky enough to come from a family with a handful of brilliant lawyers. “Family gatherings always meant having scintillating discussions about politics and the country's current affairs which left me predisposed from an early age,” she says.
Nadia has lived and studied between Bangladesh and the UK. “I completed my MSc from the London School of Economics, did my LLM from the City Law School, got called to the English Bar from Lincoln's Inn, did my LLB from the London South Bank University and aside some years of schooling in the UK, I was schooled mostly at Bangladesh International School,” says Nadia. She now practices in Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh's chamber, before which she was with Rokanuddin Mahmud for two months.
Since returning to Bangladesh in May 2014, she has had the opportunity to work for animal welfare alongside Founder of Obhoyaronno Animal Welfare Society, Rubaiya Ahmad. “At the age of 6, when I saw a cruel-looking man stab a dog with iron rods, it scarred me for life. I remember hoping I could do something to stop people like him from killing dogs in the future,” says Nadia. “Of course at that time I didn't really know to what extent dog-culling was prevalent in Bangladesh, and it's really sad to see that even after 20 years such barbaric practices still exist.”
The main provision that specifically relates to dog-culling is section 7 of the Cruelty to Animals Act, 1920 which distinctively prohibits the killing of any animal in an unnecessarily cruel manner unless prescribed by religion or for science, and makes it punishable by a maximum of 6 months jail and TK 200 fine. “We also used public nuisance amongst other arguments for the purpose of the writ petition,” she says.
There are a lot of things to fight for with regards to animal rights in Bangladesh, like in respect to zoos, circus animals, horse-carts, turtles, roadside pet shops, etc., “but I have no intention of limiting myself to any one area of law and would like to fight for as many causes as I can,” she says.
Being an animal rights activist, Nadia advocates for and promotes the causes of Obhoyaronno as much as she can, “I think the best way to fight for animal rights is by demonstrating to people, who do not feel an affinity to animals, how precious all animals really are and helping them come out the mind-set that makes them look at animals as feeling less, dangerous creatures riddled with diseases and as creatures at their disposal.”