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This article was originally published in Houston Chronicle on September 05, 2013. You can access the original article here: www.houstonchronicle.com/life/columnists/oconnor/article/Fighting-violence-against-immigrant-women-4789876.php.

When Anne Chandler travels around Houston, she doesn’t see the same city you and I see.

Here she sees a shady massage parlor, there a hotel where women are prostituted, over there a tea house that isn’t a tea house. All around, Anne sees the seamy side, and everywhere she sees women exploited and abused.

Anne is, and has been for four years, the director of Tahirih Justice Center in Houston, whose mission is to protect immigrant women fleeing gender-based violence.

That means dealing with women who have suffered sex slavery, genital mutilation, fear of “honor” killing, domestic violence, rape as a tool of war. You’d think she’d be burdened by such a horrific set of problems, but instead she is buoyed.

The center provides an array of services to these women and girls, not all of them involving legal work. There’s also medical assessment and social work. The cases aren’t simple.

“Those they fear are often family members,” says Anne, who has dancing brown eyes and a quick smile.

Last year, she and her all-female legal team dealt with immigrants from 40 countries, from Mexico to Mali to Burma, “pretty much all over,” she says. They also work with volunteers from law firms they’ve partnered with, volunteer interpreters and volunteer physical and mental health professionals. Read the full story.

Photo credit: Melissa Phillip/Houston Chronicle