Tasnim Saeid, Law Enforcement

by mkrayem

The last of our Five Days of Fabulous is here. Like all significant occasions we’re going to share mixed feelings about it.

There are many women in my life that I’d love for you to meet and choosing five for the week was a difficult task. Everywhere I turn I see inspiring women doing great things and that makes it much easier to believe that change is coming.

My last interview for the week is with the bubbly and ever brilliant, Tasnim Saeid.

I met Tasnim through my younger sister when she was in her first year of Uni. Now, 5 odd years later, she’s a fully-fledged lawyer, doing fully-fledged lawyer things.

Tasnim is refreshingly honest, even when she disagrees with you, she’ll win you over with her relentless wit and fast paced banter. She is, hands down, one of the most intelligent women I have come across. And her passion speaks for itself.

Tasnim

Ok so you’re a lawyer, that’s basically like being a superhero. Give us the rundown on a day in the life of Tasnim?

*cue dramatic music*

After running through various red lights and avoiding camera detection, I bring my Ferrari to a halt outside the courthouse. I strike the ground with force as I step out in my Armani power suit, underneath my silk black robes. I snatch by brief case and run down a packed corridor, filled with murderers, thieves, child molesters and drug addicts. I reach giant mahogany doors and meet my client, a disheveled homeless and toothless man, charged with carrying an offensive weapon- a knife he carried and used to cut his fruit with. I enter the courtroom with fortitude and declare, “Your Honour! Fiat justitia et pereat mundus – Let there be justice, though the world perish!”. The courtroom erupts with the sound of applause and my client is declared to be as innocent as the day his mother gave birth to him!

The sound of applause is so deafening that it wakes me from my daydream. Yes, it’s not only non-lawyers who imagine this is what a day of superhero must be like. We have these visions too, in fleeting bites sandwiched between reality.

Reality for me is more like taking 50 or so calls daily from people all over the state. Their legal issues range from petty disputes about a neighbour’s fence being 5mm outside the boundary line (you wouldn’t believe how COMMON this grievance is), to serious cases of severe domestic violence, rape or abuse to very very serious cases of why people are being robbed daily when they make purchases and their $12.23 is rounded off to $12.25! WHERE IS THE JUSTICE HERE?! Where’s our constitutional right to our two cents!? Le sigh.

Let’s just say I’ve learnt to master the art of carrying a conversation and giving information and advice, while laughing or crying internally from the downright weird and baffling to the horrendously unjust and brutal matters we get on a daily basis.

I’m glad you still have a sense of humour about it all. What’s one thing that really shocked or surprised you once you started practicing in the field?

The most shocking thing I have come across to date is people’s creativity and innovation (for lack of a better word) when it comes to being evil, brutal and horrendous towards other people. I worked at a legal centre for women and many of the cases involved compiling lengthy affidavits, which detailed the abuse the women had to endure. Some mild examples include a woman who was forced to shower and wash her hair using dishwashing detergent only (soap/ shampoo was an unnecessary luxury). One had deep round scars all over her forearms (her partner would use her arms as an ashtray to put out cigarette butts) and another was forced to play sick games with the perpetrator and come up with other ways she should be abused.

What has surprised me more than the horror stories I heard and witnessed was the resilience, courage and coping mechanisms people developed in these situations. It was bewildering to witness how people kept going on with their lives despite everything.

I suppose it really helps you keep your own trials in perspective. What’s the most rewarding thing about what you do?

This is probably going to sound as clichéd as my opening dramatic intro, but the most rewarding part is knowing that you might be making a difference (however small or large) in someone’s life.

The smiles, the thank yous and at times suffocating bear hugs from clients, help you recalibrate and refocus whenever you think “why am I doing this?”.

I also personally really enjoy talking (anyone who knows me can attest to my verbal diarrhea – eww yuck I KNOW! Sorry for making you read that. I didn’t coin the term. Credits go to my high school history teacher), so yeah I get to talk AND help people in my job…how awesome!

Which leads me to my next question, you’re also a radio presenter, where on Earth do you find the time?

Well when you have an addiction, it’s hard to resist and not pursue it! So my talking addiction led me to not only talk to my friends, family and clients (and do all their heads in I must confess), I thought hey why not make the whole town listen to me!?! RADIO HERE I AM! Air pollution, I know, don’t worry. I’m an environmental hazard.

The radio show is awesome because you get to meet, greet and converse with uber awesome people (who you probably otherwise would never get to share oxygen from the same room with) under the pretext of doing interviews for “community benefit”. You also get to ask dumb questions under the pretext of “the audience”. Win win. Muhahaha.

I wouldn’t call me uber awesome but if you insist then who am I to deny you such a fantasy? What’s the ultimate goal for you?

Goal? To have a goal? To work out why we need a goal? To understand why some know their innate calling, while others are still out in the wilderness trying to figure it out (ahem, not me of course). Existential crisis much?

To be honest I’m still trying to cement and apply a final garnish on my future goals/ plans. Let’s just say I really want to tread a path where I’m assisting, helping, educating, empowering, motivating and being motivated by, women and girls. This is a cause close to my heart and I want to contribute to it as much as I can, in a manner I’m yet to fully figure out.

I think a lot of women and girls already see you as contributing very much to that cause- precisely why I was all ‘you can say no to this interview but I really don’t want you to’. I’m a fruit loop (much like yourself) and I often think about how I want to be remembered when I’m dead and then try and live my life that way. How do you want to be remembered? Try not to look so morbid.

Now we’re going from existential to borderline nihilist? Oh dear.

This is going to sound so much like a cliché comment by a beauty pageant queen.

I guess I want to leave this world without having left any anger, rancor or hatred in anyone’s heart towards me. I would love to be able to make a tangible difference so that I’m remembered in a positive way and for people to think that I was an asset to planet earth, not someone on whom scarce oxygen was wasted.

I don’t know what will allow me to earn this status, hence my answer to the previous question.

I don’t think I’ve ever heard a beauty pageant queen say anyting other than ‘world peace’. Favourite film and why?

Film? Meh. I hate films. They annoy me. I end up analyzing every word, comment and theme and can’t really enjoy the “whole thing”.

There must be some awesome films though. Hmmm. “Blood Diamond” was pretty good, so are “I am Sam” and “Precious”. I guess I like films that aren’t overly sexist, racist, patriarchal, trivial and filled with capitalist messages. Okay I’ll stop ranting.

I like books though. I recommend you read Steve Toltz’s “A fraction of the whole” and Izzeldin Abuelaish’s “I Shall Not Hate” by the end of the month! *that’s an order actually*

Done. Also I don’t think we’ve ever been to the movies together. We should. I annoy the crap out of my movie companions with my incessant need to offer social commentary after every scene. I resist the urge to do it line by line because apparently people get really pissed off about that. Go figure. What would be your chosen super power?

The power to eradicate injustice!

*oh the irony of a lawyer saying that. Just shows you how highly incapable I think I am of being able to do it in my current position that I actually need a super power for it!*

It just goes to show how grave the injustices really are. If you could change anything about yourself what would it be?

More like if I could keep one thing and replace the rest!

….ooops  this is a blog thing not therapy. Don’t worry I don’t have too many self- esteem issues xD

I would want more wisdom and brains.

I’m counting that as half each to make one. I suck at math. Don’t judge me. 

And that’s a wrap my friends. Stay tuned for new content next week… maybe even some of those opinions I claim to have.

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