Baha'i News -- CNN World Report Focuses on the Tahirih Justice Center

CNN World Report Focuses on the Tahirih Justice Center

There are approximately 35 million refugees throughout the world and 80% of them are women. Organizations such as the Tahirih Justice Center assist these women in their escapes from persecution and violence and, during the week of March 5, 2002, CNN World Report aired a story that highlighted their efforts.

Layli Miller founded the Center in 1997 after her participation in the case of a young Togolese woman, Fauziya Kassinga. The United States granted Ms. Kassinga asylum due to her fear that she would be subjected to female genital mutilation if she returned to her home country. After the case, Ms. Kassinga and Ms. Miller co-authored a book entitled Do They Hear You When You Cry. Realizing that the legal system has an excellent opportunity to help and protect refugee women, Ms. Miller used the proceeds from the book to start the Tahirih Justice Center. To date, the Center has assisted approximately 2000 women in their efforts to be free from violence.

The CNN story focuses on the work of the Center on behalf of Afghan women. A client interviewed in the piece is named Farida. She is an Afghan woman who was able to get asylum in the United States in 2000 with the Center's assistance. While in the U.S., she has become a spokeswoman for Afghan women and was given the honor of introducing President and Mrs. Bush to open the ceremony for the recent Afghan Women and Children's Relief Bill.

Irena Lieberman, the Director of Legal Services, explained that the Center is able to assist Afghan women through both direct services and larger public policy advocacy. Through direct legal assistance, the Center assists women who are currently in Pakistan and seeking resettlement in the United States due to past persecution or the threat of future violence. Through its public policy advocacy, the Center has worked with the State Department, White House, Immigration and Naturalization Service, and the United Nations agency to improve the refugee processing system.

As Ms. Lieberman noted, immigrant and refugee women have a wide range of needs once they arrive in the United States, including language courses and housing. The Tahirih Justice Center not only provides its clients with legal services, but also facilitates women's access to this broad range of social services.

Organizations like the Tahirih Justice Center are making a substantial difference in the lives of women and children fleeing persecution, but there is a tremendous need for further assistance.

©Copyright 2002, Tahirih Justice Center

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