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At the Tahirih Justice Center, our charitable mission involves protecting courageous immigrant women and girls who refuse to be victims of violence.
Utilizing the U.S. legal system, Tahirih functions as a national, nonprofit organization that supports women and girls, from around the world, who have decided to stand up against their oppression. We provide them with holistic, free legal services and advocacy in courts, communities, and Congress. Tahirih protects women and girls who seek safeguards from human rights abuses, including domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, female genital mutilation, honor crimes, and forced marriage.
Tahirih—a Baha’i-inspired organization—was founded on the belief that the achievement of full equality between women and men is necessary for society to progress.
Since its inception in 1997, Tahirih has assisted over 15,000 women and girls in obtaining justice. The organization currently has approximately fifty full-time staff, including attorneys, social workers, advocates, and other support staff, working out of offices in the Washington, DC area; Houston, Texas; and Baltimore, Maryland. A network of over twelve hundred attorneys from over two hundred large law firms who donate their time and legal skills to help Tahirih’s clients all multiply the impact of Tahirih’s efforts. Tahirih also partners with physicians, psychologists, translators, and other professionals to service its clients. Through leveraging these professional volunteer services, valued at $13 million in 2013, Tahirih turns every dollar donated to the organization into $4.50 of impact. Tahirih maintains a 99% success rate in the cases it litigates, even while it takes on cutting-edge, legally complex cases viewed as “unwinnable” by other attorneys.
Tahirih’s institutional sustainability is ensured by a supportive governing Board of Directors, a comprehensive fundraising strategy and a broad network of generous donors, including individuals, corporations, foundations and the United States government. While Tahirih receives charitable support from individual Baha’is, it is not funded by Baha’i institutions.
Strategically committed to both short-term and long-term protection of women and girls from violence, Tahirih utilizes a three-pronged approach to enable individuals to transform their lives, help communities reframe the issue of violence against women in their cultural context, and facilitate change in public policies and the law. Specifically, Tahirih provides the following:
- Lifesaving free legal and social services, which enable low-income immigrant women and children to attain the rights to which they are entitled under U.S. law, to secure legal protection for themselves and their families, and to equip them with the resources they need to reclaim and rebuild their lives;
- Public education, outreach, training, and one-on-one technical assistance, which equips professionals (including law enforcement, social service providers, lawyers, clergy, health workers, etc.) and communities with a greater ability to respond to the unique needs of immigrant survivors of gender-based violence; and
- Public policy advocacy, which elevates the voices of its clients to foster nonpartisan dialogue and laws that advance systemic protections for the safety, well-being, and human rights of vulnerable women and children.
A national leader in public discourse and advocacy regarding violence against immigrant women, Tahirih has authored groundbreaking legislation to protect so-called mail-order brides from the international marriage broker industry and other laws to protect those fleeing gender-based persecution. Additionally, Tahirih is a thought leader in the United States on violence against immigrant women, leading several national coalitions and collaborating with over seven hundred like-minded organizations on issues including forced and child marriage, female genital mutilation, and human trafficking.
We do all this, joyfully and happily, because we believe in the equality of the sexes, the oneness of humanity and the exhortations of the Baha’i teachings to help every victim of oppression:
Be ye loving fathers to the orphan, and a refuge to the helpless, and a treasury for the poor, and a cure for the ailing. Be ye the helpers of every victim of oppression, the patrons of the disadvantaged. Think ye at all times of rendering some service to every member of the human race. Pay ye no heed to aversion and rejection, to disdain, hostility, injustice: act ye in the opposite way. Be ye sincerely kind, not in appearance only. Let each one of God’s loved ones centre his attention on this: to be the Lord’s mercy to man; to be the Lord’s grace. Let him do some good to every person whose path he crosseth, and be of some benefit to him. Let him improve the character of each and all, and reorient the minds of men. In this way, the light of divine guidance will shine forth, and the blessings of God will cradle all mankind: for love is light, no matter in what abode it dwelleth; and hate is darkness, no matter where it may make its nest. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 3.
And the honor and distinction of the individual consist in this, that he among all the world’s multitudes should become a source of social good. Is any larger bounty conceivable than this, that an individual, looking within himself, should find that by the confirming grace of God he has become the cause of peace and well-being, of happiness and advantage to his fellow men? No, by the one true God, there is no greater bliss, no more complete delight. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Secret of Divine Civilization, pp. 2–3.