We are excited to announce that, this week, the Tahirih Justice Center released the results of our groundbreaking national survey on the state of forced marriage in the United States. The survey is the first of its kind conducted in the United States and designed to understand the scope and nature of forced marriage among immigrant communities. Newsweek magazine has reported on the survey results in this week’s edition and the full survey report can be read on Tahirih's website.
Forced marriage is an issue that has increasingly come to our attention as Tahirih received calls for help from around the country. There is a regrettable lack of information in the United States about forced marriage, there are no laws designed to protect forced marriage victims, and there is a void in community dialogue and advocacy on the issue. In stark contrast to the United Kingdom, which has a governmental agency focused on forced marriage, a national forced marriage hotline, and a specific forced marriage temporary restraining order, the United States is woefully behind and has very little in place to adequately protect women and girls fleeing forced marriage. To address this need, Tahirih has launched a Forced Marriage Initiative to protect courageous women and girls who step forward and ask for help. We invite you to sign up to receive updates on this important issue.
Thank you for your partnership in ending violence against women and girls,
Layli Miller-MuroExecutive Director
"My husband Jean and I were married for many years, had two beautiful daughters, and were very happy together. Many years into our marriage, I became a member of the True Church of God of Cameroon, a Pentecostal church, and was devastated with his reaction.
Jean, like most Cameroonians, is a Catholic, and views Pentecostalism as an illegitimate, sacrilegious sect. He accused me of saying prayers to harm his business and told me that my religion disturbed every part of his life. Whenever I returned home from church service, Jean was waiting for me. He whipped me with a belt many times and once, he even threatened me with a hammer. He told me he would kill me.
In my religion, we wake up every night at midnight to pray. My husband would lie awake until midnight, and when I would start to get up he would pull me down by my clothing and force oral and anal sex on me. If I tried to refuse, he beat me and threatened me. Even though he would usually assault me in our bedroom, the children could hear me crying and could hear him yelling at me. Horrified and confused by the sounds they heard, they came to the door to see what was happening. My heart broke that they witnessed their father’s extreme abuse.
After my conversion of faith, I was abandoned by many friends, family members, and colleagues. However, I was able to transfer my job to a town three hours away by bus, to get away from Jean’s abuse.
But Jean stalked me...."
Click here to continue reading Mariam's story on Tahirih's website.
*Names have been changed to protect privacy. The photograph included here is not of Mariam. Photo by Sergio Pessolano.
Thank you for investing in the work of the Tahirih Justice Center! I would like to invite you to read about Tahirih’s recent accomplishments in our Spring Newsletter, including the growth of our Houston Pro Bono Attorney Network through educational outreach, our new forced marriage advocacy initiative, and an improved protective order statute in Virginia.
None of our work would be possible without your support. Thank you for investing in Tahirih’s mission of providing justice for immigrant women and children fleeing violence.
Layli Miller-Muro Executive Director
PS – don’t forget, you can also follow Tahirih’s work by signing up for updates at our website or by following us on Twitter and Facebook!
Thank you for generously donating last December and making it possible for us to secure a spot on the Global Giving website! I want to share with you an exciting and generous opportunity from Global Giving: on Wednesday, March 16, for one day only, Global Giving will match every donation of $1,000 or less at 30% up to a total of $75,000 across all charities on the Global Giving site. In other words, if you donate $100, Global Giving will turn your donation into a $130 gift.
The match begins at 12:01am EST on March 16th (9:01 pm PST March 15th) Please help us take advantage of this opportunity and make a donation in support of immigrant women and girls fleeing gender-based violence as early as possible on March 16th. Your gift will help provide representation for women like Uwa:
In Nigeria, a woman’s place is thought to be in the home. But I had other plans. I was determined to pursue a higher education and obtain economic independence, so I attended college, obtained multiple degrees, and worked hard to have a very successful career in banking and finance in the top banks in the capitol, Lagos.
Unfortunately, my husband Ndulu’s family did not care about my career. They were from a different tribe than I was, and told Ndulu that women from my tribe were too hard to control. Though my job supported my husband, many of his siblings, and his extended family, living with them was misery. I was constantly insulted, with Ndulu’s family calling me names like “useless woman” and mocking my tribe. Whenever I tried to assert my independence, they turned their insults to Ndulu for not controlling me better.
Soon, Ndulu too began to insult me, beat me physically, and then rape me, in order to “teach me” to be “his woman.” For over two years I suffered his abuse. Ndulu dragged me from my bed and beat me with an electrical cord, slammed me into the headboard, slapped me, hit me, and kicked me. Once Ndulu’s beatings left me unconsciousness in a pool of blood and nearly caused me to miscarry our daughter. He kept me from seeking medical attention in all but the most dire of circumstances, so to this day my body bears the marks of his abuse.
I tried to get help. I went to our church’s marriage committee for counseling but Ndulu continued to threaten and abuse me in front of the committee, yelling “Leave me alone. If I had a gun I would kill her and nothing would happen to me!” Next I tried the police, but they told me, “Woman, that is a family affair. Go and submit to your husband.”
Finally, I decided to do the unthinkable.
Click here to continue reading Uwa's story on Tahirih's website.
Thank you so much for your support of women and girls fleeing gender-based violence! Since we first posted our project on Global Giving, we are pleased to let you know that Tahirih Justice Center staff have held trainings for 142 pro bono attorneys in Washington, DC, Baltimore, MD, and Houston, TX. Attorneys were trained on how to protect women and girls fleeing human rights abuses, including legal remedies available and the unique cultural, linguistic, and religious barriers our clients face.
These attorneys and others in our network increase Tahirih’s ability to achieve justice for immigrant women and girls fleeing horrific violence. Organization-wide, in 2010, we assisted 1,462 service seekers; litigated 398 full-scale cases, involving 817 unique immigration and family law matters; served 102 clients through 216 referrals for social and medical services; and maintained a 99% litigation success rate. In 2011, with your help, we are striving to provide the same excellent legal representation to hundreds of women and girls.
None of these achievements would have been possible without our Pro Bono Attorney Network of over 865 attorney volunteers from 135 top law firms who represent our clients free of charge. These donated professional services are a vital resource for the Tahirih Justice Center. Help Tahirih continue to train pro bono attorneys who will represent woman and girls fleeing violence.
Thank you for your support.
PS – to receive regular information about Tahirih’s work, sign up for updates at our website.
Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.
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