Google Doodle Pays Tribute To Cornelia Sorabji, India's First Female Advocate

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Google on Wednesday paid tribute to India's first female advocate Cornelia Sorabji on her 151 birth anniversary.

Besides being the first woman Indian lawyer, she had lot more "firsts" to her credit: the first woman to practice law in India and also in Britain, the first woman to go to Bombay University and the first Indian to study in Oxford University and the first woman to be allowed to study law at that university. "Celebrating India's first female lawyer, Cornelia Sorabji, on her 151st birth anniversary".

Born in Nashik, she was one of nine children of Reverend Sorabji Karsedji and his wife, Francina Ford, who had been adopted and raised by a British couple.

Sorabji was the first woman permitted to attend Bombay University, where she excelled. She could have achieved further heights if not for the regressive norms of Indian society. In this regard, Sorabji was given special permission to enter pleas on the behalf of the purdahnashins before British agents of Kathiawar and Indore principalities, but she was unable to defend them in court since, as a woman, she did not hold professional standing in the Indian legal system.

She joined the Somerville College in 1889 and cleared the Bachelor of Civil Law in 1892, but was not awarded a degree as she was a woman-she only got the official degree after 1920, when they agreed to give degrees to women. Google honours her on this day by creating a doodle of Cornelia in front of the Allahabad High Court where she started her career as a pleader.

Over the next 20 years from 1902, she fought for women by becoming the legal advisor for many, where she helped many in need from different states of India.

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Both her parents wanted to change the face of women's education in the country. She spent her childhood initially in Belgaum and later in Pune.

Widows in purdah are often entitled to their husband's estates but their isolation prevented them from seeking legal help, as all lawyers were male at the time.

Later in 1904, she was assigned as a Lady Assistant at the Court of Wards, Bengal.

Cornelia supported over 600 women and children and fought their cases without charging a fee.

She also wrote short stories, articles and her autobiography "Between the Twilights". Two autobiographical works of Cornelia are India Calling: The Memories of Cornelia Sorabji (1934) and India Recalled (1936). She retired from law in high court in 1929 and died on July 6, 1954 at her London home.

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