Leila is the 2015 Houston Courageous Voice Honoree. Please join us at our 4th Annual Houston Gala, “The Goodfellas: Recognizing the Critical Role of Men in Ending Violence Against Women,” on Sept. 26, 2015. Leila will be presented with her award at the event.
Born into an oppressive household, Leila suffered severe abuse at the hands of her family from a very young age. At age seven, Leila was subjected to the life-threatening practice of female genital mutilation.
In her community, women are treated as property and married to men chosen by their fathers. Even as a child, Leila knew she did not want this future. In a culture where women are shunned for defying men, only her brother, Ousmane, stood by her side. As years passed their bond grew with Ousmane helping Leila escape a forced marriage, complete a 5-year degree program abroad, and obtain a U.S. student visa.
They knew if she returned home, she faced marriage to a man 40 years her senior and life without freedom. Leila turned to Tahirih Justice Center and her pro bono attorney, Kate Hill of King & Spalding, who dedicated nearly three years of service to her case.
Earlier this year, Leila was finally granted asylum. Now employed, Leila looks forward to continuing her studies and pursuing an independent life in safety and with dignity.