Twenty years ago this month, a 17-year-old girl revolutionized U.S. asylum law, and I had the privilege of standing by her side. On this anniversary of her legal milestone, I am thrilled to announce Tahirih Justice Center’s ambitious strategy for growth to protect 250% more courageous women and girls like her.
I hope you will partner with us at this extraordinary moment in our history.
When I was a young law student at American University, I met Fauziya Kassindja, a courageous teenager who fled Togo to escape forced marriage and female genital mutilation/cutting. Instead of being welcomed as a hero in the United States, she was imprisoned in detention centers for nearly two years. I argued her case before an immigration judge. Our first plea failed, but I worked with my professors and fellow students to continue to fight for Fauziya. Together, we brought her case to the highest immigration court in the nation.
On June 13, 1996, Fauizya won asylum.
Her victory established that women fleeing gender-based persecution could be eligible for asylum in the United States. It also changed the course of my life. I was besieged by pleas for help by women like Fauziya.
One year later, using all of my proceeds from a book that we wrote together, “Do They Hear You When You Cry,” I founded Tahirih to assist courageous women and girls like Fauziya with nowhere else to turn.
With critical help from supporters like you, Tahirih has grown into an effective, efficient, and innovative non-profit that has served over 19,000 survivors fleeing unthinkable violence, including female genital mutilation/cutting, domestic violence, human trafficking, and forced and child marriage. Today, we stand alone as the only national, multi-city organization providing a broad range of legal services, policy advocacy, and community education to protect immigrant women and girls who refuse to be victims of violence.
At any given moment, our dedicated staff attorneys are representing around 700 survivors in Baltimore, Greater DC, and Houston courts. A mother facing deportation only has a 16% chance of winning her case without a lawyer. With Tahirih by her side, her chances soar to 99%. There is no better promise of justice.
Yet, heartbreakingly, we are only able to protect 1 out of every 4 women and girls who come to us for help because of lack of capacity. That fact keeps me up at night. Every woman and girl who heroically escapes violence and demands change deserves help.
You can ensure that she does.Please join our $10M Ready to Soar Expansion Campaign. We have already raised $6.5M! Now, women and girls across the country our counting on you to help us raise the rest. The epidemic of violence against women continues to grow at an alarming rate, and your investment will enable us to meet the growing demand for our lifesaving services. With your help, by 2017, we will open two new offices, one in the San Francisco Bay Area and one in a yet-to-be determined, high-need location. We will double our policy advocacy and training capacity, and we will protect 250% more women and girls.
You are the key to our success at this extraordinary moment in our 19-year history.
Please make your Ready to Soar gift today to ensure that the most vulnerable among us have the long-term support they need to rebuild their lives in safety and with dignity. Visit www.tahirih.org/ready-to-soar to learn about how you can raise lifesaving funds for heroes like Fauziya.
Thank you for your contribution. Because of you, brave women and girls across the country will rise above violence and soar to new heights. When she soars, we all soar.
3 Ways You Can Help
- Set up a monthly Ready to Soar contribution of your choice.
- Start your own fundraiser and ask your friends and family to rally for Ready to Soar.
- Tell your friends and family about the campaign on social media using our ready-to-go images. When #SheSoars, #WeSoar!
Founder and Executive Director
Tahirih Justice Center