Learn more about our rich legacy as a pioneer in the fight to end violence against women and girls.
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.
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.
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.
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.
First Paid Staff Begin Representing Women
Tahirih hires first paid staff to represent women seeking asylum from gender-based persecution.
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.
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.
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).
Tahirih Protects Trafficking Survivors
Tahirih begins representing victims of human trafficking under new law.
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.”
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.
Pro Bono Attorney Network Launches
Tahirih launches the Pro Bono Attorney Network to protect more women and girls.
Public Policy Advocacy Program Launches
Tahirih launches the Public Policy Advocacy Program to amplify survivor voices and foster long-lasting legal and social change.
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.
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.
Holistic Services Expand
Tahirih expands our holistic services by hiring our first in-house social worker.
Family Law Representation Begins
Tahirih launches Family Law Representation Program to protect and safeguard women and children from abuse.
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.
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.
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.
Tahirih Receives Award for Excellence in Non-Profit Management
Tahirih receives The Washington Post Award for Excellence in Non-Profit Management.
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.
Tahirih Amplifies Survivor Voices at Congressional Briefing
Tahirih congressional briefing draws attention to threats to gender-based asylum law.
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.
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.
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.
Houston Office Opens
Tahirih opens our first satellite office in Houston, the fifth largest U.S. destination for immigrants.
Tahirih Briefs the Obama Transition Team
Tahirih briefs the Obama transition team on gender-based asylum concerns.
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.
Baltimore Office Opens
Tahirih reaches an expansion milestone, opening our third office in Baltimore.
African Women Empowerment Project and Public Policy Council
Tahirih launches African Women Empowerment Project and Public Policy Council to advise and support policy initiatives.
Miller-Muro Gives TEDx Talk
Layli Miller-Muro discusses the epidemic of violence against women at TEDx Grand Rapids.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
Miller-Muro Receives 150 Fearless Women Award
Layli Miller-Muro is named one of Newsweek’s 150 Fearless Women.
Miller-Muro Receives Diane Von Furstenberg People’s Choice Award
Layli Miller-Muro wins the Diane Von Furstenberg People’s Choice Award.
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.
Founder Receives 100 Most Intriguing Entrepreneurs Award
Layli Miller-Muro receives Goldman Sachs’ 100 Most Intriguing Entrepreneurs Award.
National Network to Prevent Forced Marriage Grows
Tahirih’s National Network to Prevent Forced Marriage grows to more than 200 members.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.