I am sure you also heard about the tragic shooting of Malala Yousafzai, an amazing 14-year-old girl whom the Taliban targeted on October 10, 2012 for speaking up for girls’ rights and wanting an education in Afghanistan. Reading the headlines of her courage and suffering broke my heart; likely, yours too.
It seems unbelievable that such oppression of women still exists. But her story is not so foreign or unusual. An overwhelming number of girls and women come to Tahirih Justice Center seeking protection so that they, too, can reject oppression and thrive. Young heroes, like Malala, are standing up every day. By donating to Tahirih, you can support their freedom today.
Our young client, Najdah* reminds me a lot of Malala:
Najdah was born in Afghanistan, in a city that lives under Taliban rule. Since she was young, Najdah fought her way through extremely difficult circumstances to get an education; she even earned a college degree. With dreams of becoming a teacher, Najdah went on to teach English in her home to the neighborhood girls, even though this was illegal and punishable by death. Najdah, like Malala, was therefore seen as a threat to the Taliban.
Not only were Najdah and her family harassed for her efforts to educate girls, they were pressured many times to marry off Najdah to her first cousin, to whom she was promised for marriage at 3 years old. While Najdah’s father delayed the wedding as long as he could, Najdah’s cousin tried to find ways to hurt Najdah and her family. Then one day in December of 2010, Najdah’s father was kidnapped at gunpoint and taken to a Taliban compound. There, he was held hostage for two days and warned that he would be killed if Najdah did not marry and did not stop teaching.
Overwhelmed, Najdah tried to commit suicide. When this effort failed, a family member helped Najdah obtain a student visa to go to the United States.
Soon after arriving, Najdah came to us desperate for relief. With Tahirih’s assistance she was granted asylum on Sept. 10, 2012. Najdah now has security that she will be safe from her cousin and the Taliban. And, as a university student today, she is living the life she and her parents had risked everything for. A life that Malala is still fighting for.
Najdah was only one of the 1,636 women and girls we helped in 2011 alone. In Baltimore, Greater DC, and Houston, we provide legal protection for hundreds of women and girls fleeing abuses including domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, human trafficking, female genital mutilation, torture, ‘honor’ crimes and forced marriage.
With the continued generosity of people like you, Tahirih has been able to empower more than 14,000 women and children to achieve justice and rebuild their lives over the last fifteen years. Our 99% litigation success rate has often meant the difference between life or death for many of our clients, including Najdah, who feared persecution and a violent marriage if sent home.
We do all we can to help everyone who calls, but we cannot take on all of their legal cases. We do not have enough lawyers to meet the need. Not being able to help a woman or girl in a desperate situation is one of the hardest things we have to do.
Will you help us empower more courageous women and girls this year? I ask that you consider making an online donation today.
Women and girls like Najdah and Malala are targeted in the hope that their heroic voices will not be heard. By giving to Tahirih Justice Center, you will help us make sure that they are.
With deepest appreciation,
Tahirih Founder and Executive Director
*Name has been changed to protect client safety and privacy.