Layli Miller Muro: Tahirih Justice Center لیلی میلر مورو

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Layli Miller Muro: Tahirih Justice Center لیلی میلر مورو

o Shah mat McGinn bhajan da thank you so much for letting me be with you this morning I first want to thank mrs. Kadim for her music I was my soul was touched and it was just beautiful and and in the memory of these amazing women and I just wanted to thank you so much for that you had mentioned you didn’t read music or play the piano officially I’m even I’m a horrible musician I have no musical talent at all and my six-year-old is taking piano and in an effort to try to help her I’m taking piano with her and so I have great appreciation for how beautiful that was compared to what we sound like I also want to thank dr. mohammad hossein me for his wonderful presentation I learned a lot about taher a things I did not know and I really appreciated his commitment to learning about her life particularly from primary sources it’s a great service to the world thank you the taher a Justice Center is named after taher a we are named in her honor for several reasons were named in her honor first and foremost because more people need to know who she is tahari is a very important figure in human history not just Persian history and it’s critically important that the whole world particularly the West have a deep appreciation and respect for who she was and how her trumpet blasts changed the atoms of the earth and brought forth the beginning of a new spiritual age for women it was mentioned in the previous presentation that taher a publicly removed her veil and she did this in 1848 at the conference of bad ashed that conference the topic of it was to discuss how quickly things should change it was a theological debate at the time among the bobbies and they were debating not unlike many other religions in the past have debated their identity and how different they are from the religion in which their country had the Jews and the Christians and others and at this conference of badash they were arguing whether or not they should cut swiftly and noticeably and quickly from Islam or it should be more gradual in taher A’s appeal was that it be aggressive and it be clear and when she removed her veil she did this and the result of her actions and her very powerful speech following that action changed the minds and the hearts of those who were there and as a result the Baha’i faith very clearly and unequivocally embraces the Equality of women and men and things changed quickly and a new day had dawned for women what is fascinating i think is within the same two-week period of time that the concert conference of badash took place there was a conference taking place in seneca New York call it was the birth of the women’s rights movement and many Westerners know about Seneca Falls but what they don’t know is that virtually the exact same time in human history in the east as well as in the West there were these great symbolic pronouncements that things would change for women and so people need to know who taher a is also we’re named the Tahari Justice Center because we are a Baha’i inspired organization we do our work inspired by principles in the Baha’i faith and we seek as best as we can to apply bhai principles in our daily life how we govern ourselves how we run our programs as well as the spiritual and philosophical influence for our work particularly with regard to the Equality of women and men the tar a justice center while being bhai inspired is not directly governed by nor funded by the Baha’i faith we are instead supported by people of all faiths who help us do our work we serve women without regard to religion and our work is done purely in

the spirit of service but we derive our inspiration from the Baha’i faith finally were named the Tahari Justice Center because our job is to support Taha race that’s what we do women come to our doors who are mini taha rays they are women who are deciding to stand up for themselves for their daughters for their children for their sisters and to say no to violence our clients are women and girls who are fleeing things like female genital cutting forced marriage domestic violence human trafficking and other forms of violence and some of these forms of violence they have suffered greatly under their mother before them suffered their mother’s mother suffered and it has been hundreds sometimes thousands of years of subjugation but they’ve decided to stop and to end it and to demand justice and to live a life free of violence and to promote the Equality of women and men and all of the Tahari justice centers clients are in fact taha race who are standing up for equality of women in the tire a Justice Center got started over 15 years ago as the result of my involvement as a law student and what became a high-profile case and the case had to do with a fundamental legal question which was whether or not you could receive refugee status because of a form of persecution that was happening simply because you are a woman so these forms of violence that I mentioned to you are inflicted simply because women are women in particular cultures and our definition of a refugee in the United States which is modeled after the Geneva Convention is that in order to prove that you’re a refugee you have to prove that your persecution is because of one of five things you have to prove your persecution is because of your religion your race your nationality your political opinion or your membership in a social group that’s the legal definition of a refugee if you cannot prove that your persecution is because of one of these five things you cannot receive refugee status and so you see the law had a problem with the forms of persecution women face a young woman who would have been subjected to female circumcision or cutting or mutilation was not being subjected to it because it was in retaliation for her religion it wasn’t because of her race it wasn’t because of her nationality was because she simply happened to be a girl in a particular ethnic community at a particular time in history and at that point the law did not recognize protection on that basis and so when I was in law school I had the blessing of being able to represent a young woman who was fleeing her native homeland of Togo she was 17 years old and she had been protected from the cultural practice of female genital cutting from her father who was a relatively progressive man who saw in her not on like taher a great intellectual potential fozia had memorized much of the Quran by the time she was 13 taher a had as well had memorized in fact the whole Quran fozia had won a competition that would send her to Saudi Arabia because her Arabic was so good and her father didn’t understand the ritual he didn’t agree with it and he protected her and sent her to boarding school in Ghana so she could finish her education and go beyond fourth grade which was customary for the girls in her village but her father suddenly passed away he died as a result of an asthma attack and when he died her world changed she no longer had the protection from The Witcher all that she had enjoyed before his family then swooped in and they inherited all of his assets which included his minor unmarried children and so fuzzy at the age of 17 was taken from school was arranged to marry a 45 year old man as his fourth wife and as a condition of the union was to undergo the mutilation that she had avoided up until that point

Fazio’s older sister who under her father’s protection had married a man outside of the tribe who didn’t require the circumcision came after the wedding ceremony but before the mutilation ceremony under the guise of wanting to congratulate her on her wedding fazio’s sister then told her to get in the car fozia did that she then proceeded to drive her for several hours across the border into Accra Ghana which was the nearest capital city and put her on the first and only plane leaving that night which happened to be going to Germany and so fuzzy ax like many refugees did not have time to pack her bags or apply for a visitor’s visa and so she had only what was on her she was wearing a very beautiful african dress from her wedding she had some gold jewelry that were gifts she had a beautiful headdress her hands and her feet were died in a decorative henna she was wearing sandals and she was now in Germany in the middle of December fauzia made her way to the newark international airport in the United States because that is where she had family she had relatives and she watched CNN she had seen American movies and she believed she could come to our Shore simply explain what was happening call her cousin at the airport and get protection as many of us know that is not how our system works instead she was honest she passed her passport to the immigration officer and said this is not mine I had to purchase it on the black market but I am fleeing a forced marriage and female genital mutilation which killed my aunt and has killed two of my cousins the immigration officer told her that her reason for coming here was not a basis for protection and that she could either get back on the plane she came on or she could go to prison she chose to go to prison and so fuzzy at the age of 17 then spent almost two years in prison with American convicted felons I met her because in law school I wrote an academic paper arguing in a law journal that you should be able to receive asylum or refugee status because of female genital mutilation it was an entirely hypothetical argument at the time but it was meant for someone like fazaia then I worked in the law office of an attorney who had been hired by her cousin and he handed me her case he said so it looks from your resume like you know something about this female genital thing can you handle this case we have a hearing in 14 days and what that meant was we had four days to prepare any brief or evidentiary materials but as God had orchestrated things I had already a 60-page brief and a hundred pages of exhibits and evidentiary materials because of a year’s worth of research on the topic and we kind of cut and pasted her name and that became her brief I argued her case before the immigration judge but we lost I then took the case to American University at the human rights law clinic where I was a student they are an army of law professors and law students worked on the case and at that point her case received a lot of media attention it climbed to the highest immigration appellate court in the United States and she won ozias case set legal precedent and so now it is possible to receive asylum or refugee status because of a form of persecution based on gender but but as a result of her case two things happened one was that I began being besieged by phone calls from other fuzzies lots of women were like her and lots of women needed help and there were not organizations this was a new area of the law to protect them the other thing that happened was that there was commercial interest in her story and my story of helping her as a law student and so we sold the rights and wrote a book that was published by Bantam Doubleday dell now Random House press and it was translated into 11 languages I used my portion of the proceeds of the book to start the Tahari Justice Center and there is so much that we have to do

I was 23 when I started to hurry unfortunately I had some wise mentors who reminded me that I didn’t know what I was doing and so I stayed out of taher ease day-to-day running for the first five years I worked at the Justice Department than I worked for a large corporate law firm and I tried to figure out and learn how to be a lawyer and then about ten years ago I joined to her a full-time and we have tried our best to respond to the overwhelming need for assistance for every 10 phone calls we get for women who need help we can only help one with the resources that we have and we have 45 staff in three different cities in Houston Texas Washington DC and Baltimore Maryland at any given time were litigating around 700 cases but there is so much more that we have to do I want to pause now and invite you to look at the screens to see a video that summarizes our work nigeria magma by disqus on OT o Romeo destroy planet zermatt mi corazon de streek SE bola na hoona record in a quiet honda vidisha harem faking hardened sharma very agar mantle oh I Bagheera jong-un helped a man measly melt Odisha nagamma cannot padharo madurai sahara montazere inque man-bag iran-pakistan tamano Picard a resonant oh gotcha home was Matt Bagheera my tears I had a cousin akia’s dr. a moment ah he’s a solid eres una barra de llamar de have totally Dario man dr. Amin Amin was a nice time kincora bocana at vienna fargo viejo de una Falcone and go away my name is Darin cumin coast i’ma have am again I’m washed a dish yes fish when I rouhani bina hayas very manager on boos John fake MyKad kesho harem Castleman Rebecca’s very soon a clan Mademoiselle Leduc SPL ET de carrera pero en que han and open honk wanna be on show Helen drove to my coach mo ba ba ba ba ham Roberto mission ave tigard unmanned Rebecca’s militant and Nigeria hichkas watch Korean udders half half saree palestra vishwakarma nemikonam van gogh zambo Robicheaux heritage a rhombus our picnic areas and the gimbal address today Alan ha modem or omissions from Katherine c’mon sake i wrote i drove my car engine man karam famicom una buena que rohini Jyothi has hey Mark age 82 Eridani miedo la joie de la matanza need easily gives an envoy doctor Onishi oh joy Hickey posterior es una testa violence bajo el sistema you to Tariq Aziz enemy fetches waiter service gonna kill robbery with a high to Lonnie sanity Adam and Ramona and Vegard Aroha residam behave i am an emo bikini nah Mon evo to dr. Boucher invis if a man Escobar basilica showed a roni hokkaido column colmenero estero padre de la Vega sorry Millie George phenom too much wine I’m cute I’m very keen ears has a job she’s needed Martinez have a dar una vaca this is your local clinic keeps Osman hay de que hace only vocally moderato sauce when we paid employee receive a coruña nobuta hurmati came ova remove a killing moon tamimi cannabis your jamas aslam Lahad amo te estoy muy possess keeravani vomits can tone hobby to none zindagi flute oboe episodes and that goony que me han zhen de una una borracha so tacky card on you JP tokoto Anka zindagi konam Libous parent ID card on hailey has sabido panel on Barra da Tijuca karmic wanna go mana motuhake my name is Evans paragraph tan barato Afghanistan vacation or music meter mano shalina Kumar don’t comb acronym 20 case it was ending in viman comic at Hanuman home Hammond carro para dar on bacuna in Tasmania command gators win more than welcome Elena’s oedema joomla kumar yadav taliban-led schnoz her chief the pool adhering to the tune of journey in san antonio george petty’s my casa de la città harajana mimosa dr de guerra na yata as indicated in korea hockey team annoyed or a again one at Juanita Solis I want also to thank those who translated this video for us they did a wonderful job thank you very much so you see that our clients arteries they are incredibly courageous women and girls who have decided to end the cycle of

violence the culture of violence and the experience of inequality now and it takes incredible courage to what to do what they do by the time they get to our doors they are heroes but the time they get to our doors they have already left they have maybe been ostracized from their families they have been cut off completely economically they may have given up their degrees they have given up any assets they had and they have fled their experiences the experience of many refugees and others who inspire all of us and many of us are here today because of the courage of people like the Tahari Justice Center clients who are demanding a new way of life and it is our honor to simply support their courage that’s our job we do that through free legal services we are lawyers at our core but we recognize also that we don’t have the resources to represent all the women who come to us so we partner with over 1,200 pro bono attorneys at 212 large law firms who donate their services to us last year resulting in 10.1 million dollars and donated legal services to taher a Justice Center clients what what that means is that every dollar donated to us has turned into four dollars of impact that’s the multiplier effect of leveraging the volunteers we have a ninety-nine percent success rate in the cases that we litigate and we help them not only with legal defense but we recognize that finding justice is only partly found in the courtroom we also have social workers on staff who helped them with their psychological needs their medical needs emergency housing english as a second language training and these other things to help them really rebuild their lives and truly find justice there are more details of our work their brochures in the bookstore if anyone is interested we take interns we have a high service fellows and there are many ways to get involved but the work that the Tahoe a Justice Center does is not simply an issue of women’s rights it’s not simply about promoting justice for the tar a Justice Center our work is a spiritual imperative it is a spiritual command that we understand we have for this day and age we know that humanity is not able to progress any further than it has now without achieving the full equality of women and men in the Baha’i writings we have a beautiful analogy which is that society is like a bird with two wings one is that of the male and the other is that of the female and until both of these wings are equally strong the bird of civilization will be unable to soar to its fullest potential and in this analogy you can see many things the left wing of a bird I wouldn’t encourage you but if any of you have tried you actually can’t detach it and stick it on the right side nor can you stick the right side of a bird on the left side they’re different wings they’re unique but they must be coordinated perfectly and they must be equally strong in order for the bird to fly and also in this analogy we understand this is not simply a women’s issue this is a man’s issue just as much men and women are equally handicapped we are flopping on the ground together because we are unable to sply and reach our full potential and so this issue of achieving the Equality of women and men is a spiritual imperative for us humanity will continue to be handicapped and we will be unable to soar to our fullest potential until we get it right it’s also important because we have a very big problem by the time I finish this sentence an underage girl will be forced to marry against her will by the time I finish my remarks six girls will endure female genital mutilation by the time we end this session together nearly 30 women or girls will report to police that they have been raped by the time you go to bed at night 14 women and girls will be

murdered because they’re considered a dishonor to their family and by this time next year 600 to 800 people mostly women and girls will be forced in to modern-day slavery we’re told in the baha’i writings that every age half its own problem in every soul its particular aspiration the remedy the world needeth at this present day in this present day afflictions can never be the same as that which a subsequent age may require be anxiously concerned with the needs of the AG live in and center your deliberations on its exigencies and requirements this is our charge this is our challenge and this is my obsession I want to close by telling you the story of an amazing client that I had the opportunity to meet recently I met her in our Houston office she had come to meet with some funders it was funders actually from the Hearst foundation and Phoebe Hearst as we learned earlier was a Baha’i and in a very interesting twist of fate it had to have been God’s will we had an intern who with very little guidance unfortunately and a little bit on her own submit a letter for funding she was trying to fund a position for herself to the hearse foundation they don’t fund what we do if you look at their website they have nothing to do with our issues but I got a phone call from the program officer who said to me you know we can’t fund you but I’m just interested to know why are you named the taher a Justice Center and I said well taher a was a Baha’i and were named in her honor and she said you’re a Baha’i I’m a Jew we love my eyes and I said really that’s great and it turns out Phoebe Hearst was a Baha’i she said oh I didn’t know that that’ll be great and then we got fifty thousand dollars from them and so you never know how these things happen but now eight years later and some million dollars later the Hearst foundation still supports us and they had come to our Houston office because they wanted to see how that office was doing this client came to share her story and she was just an amazingly inspiring young woman she was just out of her teenage years when her father was put in prison in Ethiopia for his political activities and she was at great risk her brother was arrested and killed her mother had disappeared and it was clear that she was next her father arranged for someone to smuggle her out of the country but he unknowingly had sold her into slavery this smuggler who was paid to help her sold her to a Saudi family and then she was forced to live in Saudi Arabia for six years where she did not receive a dime for her services where she worked 18 to 20 hour days and was whipped if she didn’t perform her duties as she was told the grandmother of the household got cancer and they came to the Houston University Medical Center to receive treatment our client came as a servant with the family to Houston one day she figured out that the alarm and the house was turned off for 10 minutes at a certain time during the day and she received a particularly brutal beating the night before and decided this was enough she fled the house that day and walked the streets she found an empty church and simply went in unpaid she stayed there she said for three hours just praying for guidance she spoke no English she emerged and as she continued to walk down the street she ran into a man and he was speaking her language and she grabbed him and explained what was happening his first response was I can’t help you but then he saw her desperation and he agreed and found someone for her to live with they had then heard of the Tahari Justice Center and they referred her to us we were then able to get her legal protection we worked with the Houston Police to help prosecute the family who fled but is now not allowed to re-enter the United States and in helping her she rebuilt her life both through medical care through psychological counseling

and legal protection when she told her story to the funders at this meeting at one point she cried and she said I have to thank for who I am today God and taha ray and I said to her because I think for many of our clients they don’t appreciate but really who she has to think is her courage and her self because it is only when a woman decides to say no when she decides to stand up and when she gives the opportunity to be of service to her to someone else that we are able to change the world and so she is at AA hooray many of you here are taha rays and thank you for spending this morning reflecting on an amazing heroine who has inspired thousands and thousands of other women thank you