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This article was originally published on July 16, 2012.

Building on a 15-year track record of service to more than 14,000 women and children fleeing gender-based violence, Tahirih Justice Center announced the formal opening of the organization’s Baltimore Office at 201 N. Charles Street, Suite 920 in the heart of downtown Baltimore on July 16, 2012.

As a result of generous local foundation and government funds through the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention, Tahirih will deliver lifesaving legal services for immigrant women and girls throughout Greater Baltimore who are fleeing gender-based violence.

Founded in 1997 and headquartered in Falls Church, Va., the national organization has served Marylanders for more than a decade; historically, 30% of Tahirih’s clients in the region are Maryland residents. Tahirih’s fortified presence in Baltimore could not come at a more critical time; the community’s immigrant population continues to grow exponentially. As of Census 2010, nearly one in ten Baltimore residents are immigrants. Immigrant women and girls fleeing violence face multiple barriers to the resources they need to rebuild their lives in safety.

Recognizing that many immigrant women in desperate need of Tahirih’s services did not have the means to travel beyond the city limits to access services, Tahirih opened a small satellite operation in Baltimore City in early 2010. Hosted by generous local law firms such as DLA Piper and Miles and Stockbridge, Tahirih took a low cost approach to this expansion, meeting clients in donated office space, deploying existing staff from the Virginia office, and leveraging the support of local pro bono attorneys who volunteer their time and talents to represent women and girls seeking justice. The organization’s empowering co-counsel relationship model—through which Tahirih attorneys guide the litigation strategy and work closely with volunteer attorneys to train and mentor them on legal issues and cultural norms—is efficient and highly effective, resulting in a 99% litigation success rate.

Tahirih’s permanent Baltimore office will promote access to justice and provide free, multicultural, holistic direct legal services to vulnerable immigrant women and girls throughout Maryland who have survived despicable forms of abuse, including human trafficking, domestic violence, and sexual assault, as well as other forms of gender-based harm.

Tahirih staff provide free legal representation to enable these courageous survivors to access the protections to which they are entitled, including:

  • Asylum applications (for victims of gender-based violence);
  • T visas (for victims of human trafficking);
  • U visas (for victims of certain violent crimes);
  • Violence Against Women’s Act petitions (for domestic violence victims); and,
  • Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (for unaccompanied minor girls).
  • In addition, Tahirih provides vital social services for immigrant women, as well as community outreach, education, and, training activities designed to equip other members of the community—law enforcement, educators, social services providers, among others—with tools, strategies, and resources to meet the needs of underserved victims.

    Tahirih is grateful to the following foundations whose support has made its service to Maryland women possible: The Jacob and Hilda Blaustein Foundation and the Morton and Jane Blaustein Foundation, the Abell Foundation, the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, the Joseph and Harvey Meyerhoff Family Charitable Funds, and the Aaron and Lillie Straus Foundation.