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History

Learn more about our rich legacy as a pioneer in the fight to end violence against women and girls.

1996
June 13

Tahirih’s Founder Involved in Landmark Asylum Victory

Tahirih’s Founder Involved in Landmark Asylum Victory

At the age of 17, Fauziya Kassindja fled Togo and sought asylum in the United States to avoid a forced marriage and female genital mutilation. Instead of finding protection, she spent more than 17 months in detention. Then-law student Layli Miller-Muro helped bring her case to the highest immigration court in the nation, and Fauziya was granted asylum in 1996 by the U.S. Board of Immigration Appeals. The decision set national precedent and established gender-based persecution as grounds for asylum.

1997
March 30

United States Bans FGM

United States Bans FGM

Spurred by the widespread media coverage of Fauziya’s case, Congress enacts a federal law to ban FGM in the United States.

June 24

Tahirih Justice Center Opens

Tahirih Justice Center Opens

Tahirih Justice Center is founded by Layli Miller-Muro, following the highly-publicized asylum case Matter of Kasinga. The non-profit is her response to an outpouring of pleas for help from women like Fauziya in desperate need of free legal protection from human rights abuses. Few organizations exist at the time to help.

1998
March 9

Random House Publishes “Do They Hear You When You Cry”

Random House Publishes “Do They Hear You When You Cry”

Fauziya Kassindja and Layli Miller-Muro co-author a memoir, “Do They Hear When You Cry,” about Kassindja’s search for justice. Miller-Muro donates her portion of the proceeds to Tahirih.

August 1

First Paid Staff Begin Representing Women

First Paid Staff Begin Representing Women

Tahirih hires first paid staff to represent women seeking asylum from gender-based persecution.

1999
January 1

Afghan Women Project Launches

Afghan Women Project Launches

In partnership with Feminist Majority Foundation, Tahirih establishes the Afghan Women Project, which enables several hundred Afghan women to receive refugee status in the United States.

November 3

Matter of Adeniji Sets Precedent

Matter of Adeniji Sets Precedent

Tahirih litigates a precedent-setting decision that clarifies that mandatory detention provisions contained in the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 cannot apply retroactively.

2000
October 28

Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act Becomes Law

Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act Becomes Law

Tahirih serves as a consultant to the U.S. State Department to assist in the conceptual development of legislation that becomes the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act. The law establishes news visas for victims of trafficking (T visas) and serious crimes (U visas).

December 1

Tahirih Protects Trafficking Survivors

Tahirih Protects Trafficking Survivors

Tahirih begins representing victims of human trafficking under new law.

2001
September 1

Campaign to Prevent Abuse and Exploitation through the International Marriage Broker Industry Launches

Campaign to Prevent Abuse and Exploitation through the International Marriage Broker Industry Launches

Tahirih launches the Campaign to Prevent Abuse and Exploitation through the International Marriage Broker Industry to address the abuse of “mail-order brides.”

December 12

Afghan Women and Children Relief Act Becomes Law

Afghan Women and Children Relief Act Becomes Law

Afghan Women and Children Relief Act becomes law. A Tahirih client and former Board member, Farida Azizi, provides remarks at a signing ceremony by invitation of the White House.

2002
January 1

Pro Bono Attorney Network Launches

Pro Bono Attorney Network Launches

Tahirih launches the Pro Bono Attorney Network to protect more women and girls.

January 1

Public Policy Advocacy Program Launches

Public Policy Advocacy Program Launches

Tahirih launches the Public Policy Advocacy Program to amplify survivor voices and foster long-lasting legal and social change.

January 1

Tahirih Works Closely with INS

Tahirih Works Closely with INS

Tahirih works closely with Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) to ensure compliance with distribution of U and T visas under Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act.

2004
November 18

Tahirih Wins First Lawsuit in U.S. Against International Marriage Broker

Tahirih Wins First Lawsuit in U.S. Against International Marriage Broker

Tahirih wins the first lawsuit in the United States against an international marriage broker (“mail-order bride” agency) for enabling the brutal abuse of a Ukrainian woman. Tahirih’s client, Nataliya Fox, wins more than $400,000 in damages.

2005
June 9

Holistic Services Expand

Holistic Services Expand

Tahirih expands our holistic services by hiring our first in-house social worker.

2006
January 1

Family Law Representation Begins

Family Law Representation Begins

Tahirih launches Family Law Representation Program to protect and safeguard women and children from abuse.

January 5

International Marriage Broker Regulation Act Becomes Law

International Marriage Broker Regulation Act Becomes Law

Drafted by Tahirih, the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act becomes law, enabling foreign women to receive lifesaving information before marrying men through these agencies.

December 12

Muslim Women Outreach Initiative Launches

Muslim Women Outreach Initiative Launches

Tahirih receives a prestigious fellowship from Ford Foundation to begin the Muslim Women Outreach Initiative, a project to empower women in Muslim communities to reject violence.

2007
January 1

Pro Bono Medical Network Launches

Pro Bono Medical Network Launches

Tahirih launches Pro Bono Medical Network, a group of medical and mental health professionals who provide free services and expert testimony for Tahirih clients.

June 20

Tahirih Receives Award for Excellence in Non-Profit Management

Tahirih Receives Award for Excellence in Non-Profit Management

Tahirih receives The Washington Post Award for Excellence in Non-Profit Management.

October 2

Tahirih Announces National Expansion Plan

Tahirih Announces National Expansion Plan

Tahirih announces plan to expand its lifesaving programs on a national scale and commits to opening two new offices by 2010.

2008
March 11

Tahirih Amplifies Survivor Voices at Congressional Briefing

Tahirih Amplifies Survivor Voices at Congressional Briefing

Tahirih congressional briefing draws attention to threats to gender-based asylum law.

May 1

Amicus Brief Draws Attention to Brutality of Female Genital Mutilation

Amicus Brief Draws Attention to Brutality of Female Genital Mutilation

In partnership with Arnold & Porter, Tahirih files an amicus brief in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals arguing that FGM can cause permanent and continuing harm to women who are forced to undergo the procedure, often leading to ongoing health issues.

2009
August 5

Tahirih Pioneers U Visa Protections

Tahirih Pioneers U Visa Protections

Tahirih pioneers the use of the U visa, receiving one of the first U visa grants in the country and becoming the first organization in the Washington, DC metropolitan area to apply for an interim relief U visa.

September 3

Tahirih Releases Groundbreaking Report on Gaps in Gender-Based Asylum Protection

Tahirih Releases Groundbreaking Report on Gaps in Gender-Based Asylum Protection

Tahirih releases report, “Precarious Protection: How Unsettled Policy and Current Laws Harm Women and Girls Fleeing Persecution,” and co-hosts congressional briefing on needed asylum reforms.

November 13

Houston Office Opens

Houston Office Opens

Tahirih opens our first satellite office in Houston, the fifth largest U.S. destination for immigrants.

December 1

Tahirih Briefs the Obama Transition Team

Tahirih Briefs the Obama Transition Team

Tahirih briefs the Obama transition team on gender-based asylum concerns.

2010
March 10

Tahirih Fosters Bill to Protect Survivors of Gender-Based Violence from Harmful Deadline

Tahirih Fosters Bill to Protect Survivors of Gender-Based Violence from Harmful Deadline

Tahirih works closely with congressional representatives to introduce Restoring Protection for Victims of Persecution Act, a law that would eliminate the one-year filing deadline for asylum that prevents many survivors from obtaining justice.

July 16

Baltimore Office Opens

Baltimore Office Opens

Tahirih reaches an expansion milestone, opening our third office in Baltimore.

September 29

African Women Empowerment Project and Public Policy Council

African Women Empowerment Project and Public Policy Council

Tahirih launches African Women Empowerment Project and Public Policy Council to advise and support policy initiatives.

2011
June 3

Miller-Muro Gives TEDx Talk

Miller-Muro Gives TEDx Talk

Layli Miller-Muro discusses the epidemic of violence against women at TEDx Grand Rapids.

September 1

Tahirih Conducts First-Ever National Survey on Forced Marriage in Immigrant Communities

Tahirih Conducts First-Ever National Survey on Forced Marriage in Immigrant Communities

Tahirih conducts first-ever national survey on forced marriage in immigrant communities in the United States and launches Forced Marriage Initiative and National Network to Prevent Forced Marriage. “Newsweek” highlights survey results.

December 1

National Network to Prevent Forced Marriage Launches

National Network to Prevent Forced Marriage Launches

Tahirih establishes National Network to Prevent Forced Marriage to create a coalition of individuals dedicated to advancing policy, programs, and practices to prevent forced marriage.

December 1

Tahirih Receives Recognition for Innovation

Tahirih Receives Recognition for Innovation

Stanford Social Innovation Review highlights Tahirih’s model of pro bono representation in an article by Layli Miller-Muro, “The Power of Many.”

2012
January 1

Tahirih Commits to Doubling Number of Women and Girls Served

Tahirih Commits to Doubling Number of Women and Girls Served

Tahirih introduces five-year strategic plan to more than double number of women and girls protected and expand to five offices by 2017.

February 2

Tahirih Strengthens the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act

Tahirih Strengthens the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act

Tahirih-drafted amendments to strengthen the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act pass almost unanimously in Senate Judiciary Committee.

March 8

Miller-Muro Receives 150 Fearless Women Award

Miller-Muro Receives 150 Fearless Women Award

Layli Miller-Muro is named one of Newsweek’s 150 Fearless Women.

March 9

Miller-Muro Receives Diane Von Furstenberg People’s Choice Award

Miller-Muro Receives Diane Von Furstenberg People’s Choice Award

Layli Miller-Muro wins the Diane Von Furstenberg People’s Choice Award.

March 27

Tahirih Aids in Implementation and Enforcement of IMBRA

Tahirih Aids in Implementation and Enforcement of IMBRA

Tahirih helps close gaps in implementation and enforcement of International Marriage Broker Regulation Act and through critical VAWA amendments.

September 24

Founder Receives 100 Most Intriguing Entrepreneurs Award

Founder Receives 100 Most Intriguing Entrepreneurs Award

Layli Miller-Muro receives Goldman Sachs’ 100 Most Intriguing Entrepreneurs Award.

2013
January 1

National Network to Prevent Forced Marriage Grows

National Network to Prevent Forced Marriage Grows

Tahirih’s National Network to Prevent Forced Marriage grows to more than 200 members.

February 28

VAWA Reauthorization Act Passes with Bipartisan Support

VAWA Reauthorization Act Passes with Bipartisan Support

Tahirih helps lead the charge to reauthorize the landmark Violence Against Women Act with strong bipartisan support and enhanced protections for immigrant survivors.

March 1

Forced Marriage Working Group Expands

Forced Marriage Working Group Expands

Tahirih expands the Forced Marriage Working Group to include more than 40 organizations dedicated to advancing policy, programs, and practices to prevent forced marriage and support and empower survivors.

2014
September 22

Tahirih Embarks on National Tour to End Forced Marriage

Tahirih Embarks on National Tour to End Forced Marriage

Inspired by six young South Asian women using art to heal from violence, Tahirih embarks on a national, six-city tour with Pomegranate Tree Group, a collective of artists and survivors, to raise awareness of forced marriage and its impact on individuals in the United States.

2015
February 15

Groundbreaking Website Launches to Protect Forced Marriage Victims

Groundbreaking Website Launches to Protect Forced Marriage Victims

Tahirih launches the first and only website of its kind, preventforcedmarriage.org, which is exclusively dedicated to providing lifesaving resources for individuals facing or fleeing forced marriage in the United States.

2016
March 1

Tahirih Achieves Historic New Minimum Marriage Age Law in Virginia

Tahirih Achieves Historic New Minimum Marriage Age Law in Virginia

The Virginia governor signs Tahirih’s minimum marriage age bill into law, making Virginia the first state in the nation to limit marriage to legal adults.

2017
January 1

Tahirih opens its 4th office, serving clients in the San Francisco Bay Area

Tahirih opens its 4th office, serving clients in the San Francisco Bay Area

Tahirih begins responding to the needs of immigrant women and girls in the region by providing full-scale legal representation, training frontline professionals on community resources, and creating a Bay Area Pro Bono Network.

January 1

Tahirih Celebrates 20 Years of Service

Tahirih Celebrates 20 Years of Service

With an army of over 2,000 pro bono professionals, volunteers, and supporters, and with a staff of nearly 70 dedicated women and men across offices in four cities, Tahirih has answered more than 22,000 pleas for help by women and girls rebuilding their lives in the wake of violence since 1997.

March 28

Tahirih testifies at Congressional Hearing on Immigration Enforcement

Tahirih testifies at Congressional Hearing on Immigration Enforcement

Archi Pyati, Tahirih’s Chief of Policy and Programs, testifies before the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security on the impact of the January 25 interior enforcement Executive Order. Watch Here

June 15

Texas Governor Signs Tahirih’s Minimum Marriage Age Bill Into Law

Texas Governor Signs Tahirih’s Minimum Marriage Age Bill Into Law

Tahirih plays a major role in drafting and driving forward SB 1705, a bill to limit marriage to legal adults in Texas. The following week, New York’s governor also signed into law a bill that restricted marriage to legal adults.

July 14

In Response to Tahirih’s Advocacy, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Removes Protected Names from Public Database

In Response to Tahirih’s Advocacy, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Removes Protected Names from Public Database

Tahirih plays pivotal role in the removal of federally protected information on survivors of violence from the publicly-searchable Department of Homeland Security (DHS) VINE website.

August 30

Tahirih Releases Groundbreaking Report on Child Marriage in the United States

Tahirih Releases Groundbreaking Report on Child Marriage in the United States

Tahirih’s report, “Falling Through the Cracks: How Laws Allow Child Marriage to Happen in Today’s America,” is the first-ever comprehensive analysis of provisions in all 50 states and Washington, DC that leave children vulnerable to the harms of forced and early marriage.

2018
January 1

Tahirih opens it’s 5th office, serving clients in Atlanta

Tahirih opens it’s 5th office, serving clients in Atlanta

Tahirih opens our fifth office in Atlanta where 1 in 10 residents is an immigrant and the denial rate for asylum is 98% – the highest in the country.

May 9

Tahirih Sparks Exponential Growth in the National Movement to End Child Marriage

Tahirih Sparks Exponential Growth in the National Movement to End Child Marriage

Delaware signs a bill into law that makes it the first state to limit marriage to individuals age 18 or older, no exceptions. New Jersey follows suit in June. Overall in 2018: nine states enact new laws, including Kentucky and Florida where Tahirih partnered with bold legislative champions, broad-based coalitions, dedicated pro bono lobbyists, and inspiring survivor advocates to achieve historic results.