Last week, PBS NewsHour aired two in-depth segments on forced marriage in the United States.With a reach of over 2.5 million viewers each night, this report on Wednesday and Thursday, Sept. 14 and 15, is bringing this hidden abuse out of the shadows and into mainstream American consciousness, and Tahirih Justice Center has been there from the beginning.
When journalist Gayle Tzemach Lemmon decided to do a story on forced marriage in the U.S., our Forced Marriage Initiative staff were among the first people she contacted to get critical background on the issue. Both Gayle and Tahirih wanted to put survivor stories front and center, highlighting not only the human rights abuse that is forced marriage, but also the courageous ways in which women and girls all over the U.S. have survived and forged new paths of healing, safety, and success.
Tahirih spent weeks supporting three incredible clients — Jada, Lina, and Nina — through interviews, and sharing our expertise as service providers and policy makers.
Each survivor featured in this two-part series was a hero long before they sat in front of the camera. Their bravery for taking part in this series cannot be overstated. There are no blurred faces and fake names here. No distorted voices to protect identities. Each one of these women is putting it all on the line to tell her story in the pursuit of justice.
They are speaking out with the hope that they will inspire others to come forward and break the silence. They are sharing their deepest struggles so that other survivors will not feel alone, as they did.
They are baring their souls so that the young girl facing forced marriage somewhere in the U.S. right now will know that there is help out there, and that everyone has the right to choose for themselves whether, when, and whom to marry.
It is our hope that this exposure will bring more attention to this human rights abuse impacting women and girls across our country every day.
In case you missed it, you can now watch Part 1 and Part 2 of this series online! We urge you to spread the word among family and friends. The fight to end forced marriage in America is gaining momentum and we want you to be a part of it!
Forced Marriage Initiative Project Manager