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Do They Hear When You CryAt the age of 17, Fauziya Kassindja fled the only home she had ever known in Togo and sought asylum in the United States to avoid a forced marriage to a man with three wives and a procedure that could kill her or bring her lifelong pain — female genital mutilation/cutting.

Instead of receiving a hero’s welcome in the U.S., Fauziya was imprisoned in maximum-security detention centers for nearly two years, where she was shackled, strip-searched, and held in isolation. Upon hearing of this atrocity, Layli Miller-Muro, then a law student at American University, helped bring Fauziya’s case to the highest immigration court in the nation.

On June 13, 1996, Fauziya won asylum, setting legal precedent for women and girls to seek asylum in the U.S. on the basis of gender-based persecution.

Tragically, 22 years after Fauziya’s seminal victory, thousands of women seeking asylum are still unable to find legal representation, imprisoned, and deported back to violence. In the last few years,, the administration announced several new policies, rules, and regulations that jeopardize the lives of individuals fleeing severe violence and persecution in their home countries and further narrow the pathway to (and probability of) asylum.

In the face of such monumental setbacks, it is more important than ever to keep Fauziya’s legacy alive. You can help by responding to this three-step action alert:

  1. Celebrate Fauziya’s victory by reading her memoir, “Do They Hear You When You Cry,” which she co-wrote with Tahirih CEO Layli Miller-Muro who founded the organization using all of her proceeds from the book.
  2. Invite your friends and family to read the book with you.
  3. Start a fundraising website for your book club and ask each member to make a donation through the page. Get started right here.


There is more need for Tahirih’s life changing programs than ever before. As asylum seekers approach U.S. borders, they are frequently turned away, forced to return to harmful and dangerous conditions that put their lives at risk.

Women and girls are disproportionately affected, and right now, Tahirih can protect only 1 in 10 who reach out to us for help.

Readers like you, who accept our summer reading challenge, will help us reverse this heartbreaking fact. Every $1 you raise will change the future for survivors, and go directly to our Building Bridges to Safety Campaign.


  1. Download Layli’s 20th Anniversary Book Club Questions.
  2. Start your own book club website and invite your friends to participate.
  3. Get logos, talking points, posters, and more in our Fundraising Toolkit.

Start My Fundraising Book Club Today

Do Something!

Tragically, 22 years after Fauziya Kassindja's seminal victory, women seeking asylum are still being treated like criminals. Start a book club this summer that is dedicated to raising funds for their legal representation. Get started here.