As Tahirih’s Baltimore Director, I have seen firsthand how many obstacles to safety and stability and further challenges to seeking redress in the court system that our clients face. Whether a client has survived torture, rape, human trafficking, or another type of harm, the ability to talk about it — whether it be with an asylum officer or an attorney — takes tremendous strength. That strength comes quickly to some women and girls. For others, it takes time.
Tahirih Justice Center was recently invited to lend our voice, and our clients’ voices, to a national coalition of human rights advocates who are trying to pass legislation — HB 519 and SB 903 — in Maryland that grants individuals who can demonstrate the grave nature of their abuse extra time to bring claims against their aggressors.
Tahirih’s survivor-centric approach recognizes that it can take years for victims to be ready to step forward and ask for help. If victims step forward only to find the doors have been closed by shorter statutes of limitations, it only reinforces the damage that their traffickers or torturers have made in making them feel disempowered and disenfranchised from our systems of protection.
This sort of legislation sends the right message to survivors. Although it did not pass this time around, the issue is gaining momentum, and we will continue to work to see similar legislation re-introduced in the future. For our clients who must cooperate with law enforcement to be able to obtain immigration relief, this is a necessary step in the right direction. It takes a lot of courage to stand up against violence. Justice is worth the wait.
*If you’d like to learn more about the lifesaving work we’re able to accomplish with our community partners, please join us at our 2015 Year-In-Review on March 15, 2016!