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A GLOBAL EPIDEMIC

Violence against women and girls is a human rights issue around the world. Due to pervasive inequality, millions of women and girls experience violence simply because they were born female. A constellation of factors puts immigrant women and girls at greater risk. At Tahirih, protecting this vulnerable population in the United States is our focus.

Violence devastates individuals, children and families, and communities.

Individual Women

Around the world, 1 in 3 women will be raped, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime. Gender-based violence can have a crippling effect on a woman’s or girl’s life, inflicting short- and long-term physical and mental harm.

Children & Families

Children who grow up in families where there is violence often grapple with a range of behavioral and emotional problems as a consequence. Sadly, violence is cyclical, and children who experience it are more likely to be victims or perpetrators as adults.

Communities

Gender-based violence takes a tremendous toll on communities. Domestic violence—just one form of gender-based violence—is more costly than warfare, with a worldwide annual cost of $8 trillion. Until all women and girls enjoy equality, society cannot progress.


What are the issues and facts?

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

What is it?

A pattern of abusive behavior in a relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control. Domestic violence may include physical and sexual violence, threats and intimidation, emotional abuse, and economic deprivation.

What’s the impact?

Studies show that immigrant women and girls in the United States are twice as likely to experience domestic violence than the general population, and they’re less likely to leave their abusers due to fear of immigration consequences, such as being separated from children.

FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION/CUTTING

What is it?

Traditional practices that involve the complete or partial removal of the external female genitalia. The United Nations and the World Health Organization recognize female genital mutilation/cutting as a human rights violation.

What’s the impact?

An estimated 200 million women and girls alive today have been subjected to FGM/C, and millions of girls are still at risk ever year. FGM/C can cause severe health complications, including problems during urination, menstruation, and childbirth.

FORCED MARRIAGE

What is it?

A forced marriage takes place without the full and free consent of one or both parties. Forced marriage can happen to an individual of any gender, age, ethnicity, and cultural or religious background. A forced marriage may be one that is threatened, or one that has already taken place. Forced marriages involving U.S. victims can happen either in the U.S. or when the individual is taken abroad. Factors behind forced marriages are complex and varied, but may include economic concerns, cultural norms, or family agreements.

What’s the impact?

As many as 3,000 known or suspected cases of forced marriage were encountered in a two-year period all across the United States, according to a 2011 Tahirih survey of more than 500 social services professionals. Victims of forced marriage face severe and lifelong consequences, including physical, psychological, sexual, and economic abuse, medical and mental health problems, being pulled out of school or college, and a loss of freedom to choose and make their own futures.

HONOR CRIMES

What is it?

Acts of violence, including murder, predominantly committed by male family members against female family members who are perceived to have brought dishonor on their families. Women and girls are targeted for many reasons, including being the victim of a sex crime or rejecting a forced marriage.

What’s the impact?

Honor crimes deprive women and girls around the world of their basic human rights, and extreme cases end in death. Worldwide, an estimated 5,000 women and girls are murdered every year in honor killings.

HUMAN TRAFFICKING

What is it?

A form of modern-day slavery that involves the recruitment of an individual by force, fraud, or coercion into labor or sexual exploitation. Human trafficking is the second largest criminal industry in the world.

What’s the impact?

Every year, an estimated 14,500 to 17,500 individuals are trafficked into the United States, and more are trafficked within it. Modern-day slavery disproportionately impacts women and girls. An estimated 80 percent of trafficking victims are female.

RAPE

What is it?

A crime of sexual violence that occurs without the consent of the victim. Around the world, rape is used to oppress, dominate, and control women and girls, and, increasingly, it is used as a weapon of war.

What’s the impact?

Survivors of rape suffer serious physical, psychological, and economic harm. The crime is prevalent in every corner of the globe. In the United States alone, someone is raped every 6.2 minutes.

TORTURE

What is it?

An act specifically intended to cause severe physical or mental pain or suffering upon another person within one’s custody or physical control.

What’s the impact?

Torture is often used to oppress, dominate, and punish women and girls. Many forms of gender-based violence are severe enough to constitute torture, and they are recognized as such under international law.


Why are immigrant women and girls at greater risk?

Social Barriers

Imagine you don't speak English, live thousands of miles from your family, and know nothing about your rights under U.S. law. This is a reality faced by millions of immigrant women and girls across the United States.

Extreme Inequality

Imagine that you struggle to meet your basic needs. Fleeing abuse can seem impossible. Your legal status makes you ineligible for legal aid, and nationally, there is only one public service attorney for every 10,000 people living in poverty.

Fear and Distrust

Imagine you have grown up in a corrupt country where you cannot trust government figures and authorities, or you have lived your whole life in an abusive home. Your abuser takes advantage of this fear to keep you silent.

1 in 3
women around the world will be raped, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in her lifetime

Against the backdrop of appalling statistics, thousands of women and girls are showing extraordinary courage and refusing to be victims of violence. Shouldn’t we do everything we can to support them?