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This article was originally published on March 13, 2012.

Dear Friends,

For many of us, reports on women and girls being threatened with violence and forced to marry seem distant and incomprehensible. On any given day, horrifying stories like these appear in the news from around the world:

Suicide of Girl, 16, Forced to Marry Rapist Sparks Outrage

Police Investigate Suicide Attempt Over a Forced Marriage

Pupils Detain Classmate’s Mother to Protest Forced Marriage

Mom Accused of Burning Teen’s Face for Refusing Arranged Marriage

Sadly, these shocking threats to the safety, well-being, and rights of women and girls are not only a cruel reality worldwide, but also here at home—the incidents above took place in Morocco, Kuwait, Kenya, and Arizona, United States of America. No country is immune—violence crosses all borders and affects women of all ages, social groups, religions, and classes.

After getting calls for help from women and girls facing situations like the Arizona teen in the headline above, Tahirih launched its Forced Marriage Initiative with a groundbreaking national survey that identified as many as 3,000 cases of forced marriage across 47 states in the past two years alone. Families of victims came from over 50 different countries of origin and several religious backgrounds.

Since Tahirih Justice Center’s founding in 1997, we have stood at the forefront of efforts to protect immigrant women and girls in the United States from violence. For those of you near our Washington, DC area office, we invite you to join us at our 15th Anniversary Gala to celebrate 15 years of protection and to learn more about our most recent initiative to bring justice to this vulnerable group. Remarks will be provided by Jasvinder Sanghera, an activist, author, personal survivor of forced marriage, and pioneer in the United Kingdom’s efforts to assist forced marriage victims. She will share her own compelling story, give an alarming glimpse into these complex and high-stakes cases, and call attention to Tahirih’s efforts to put in place life-saving protections and supports for the thousands of young women who may face forced marriage in the United States each year.

For our Texas supporters, please save the date for our inaugural Houston Benefit on Sept. 29, 2012. This inspiring event will celebrate Tahirih’s work towards justice for vulnerable individuals in the Houston region.

To learn more about Tahirih’s Forced Marriage Initiative and the problem of forced marriage in the United States, please click here to watch a short 3-minute video. Thank you for your support.

Warm regards,

Layli's Signature

Layli Miller-Muro
Tahirih Founder and Executive Director