Saturday, December 18, 2010


ABC News (via The Jawa Report and Atlas Shrugs) has a report about women who come to Houston from Muslim-dominated Mali to avoid arranged marriages and worse, circumcision:
HOUSTON (KTRK) -- The choice to fall in love and marry whomever you want is common here in America. But in some countries, marriage rituals include polygamy and violence.

For these reasons, many women are fleeing their home countries and are seeking refuge here in Houston. We have the story of one woman who is fighting to stay here, and we should warn you, the content of this story is graphic and meant only for adults.

The young woman says she needs protection from her own family.

"They want me to do something that I don't want," she said.

She is 24 years old. We can't use her real name, so we'll call her Rachel. She is from Mali, a country in West Africa. Rachel came to Houston two and a half years ago to study at a local university.

Now, her family is calling for her to return because they found her a husband. Rachel received word in a letter of warning from her sister.

"He is over 50 years old and he has already has two wives and a lot of children," the letter read. "Some are older than you, but he is very rich."

Rachel is in Houston on a student visa. When that runs out, she has to return home, where she'll be married. But her forced marriage isn't the only reason she doesn't want to go back.

Rachel, like the majority of women in Mali, must face circumcision before marriage. Her sister's words warn of the horror. [...]

"There are laws in the United States that recognize that we as a society do not tolerate this type of violence," said Anne Chandler, director of the Tahirih Justice Center, a group that protects women and girls from human rights abuses.

"What we're talking about here is very severe forms of violence that are perpetrated against women and girls," Chandler said.

Not everyone who applies is awarded asylum. Lawyers have to prove the applicant's home country or government is unwilling or unable to protect them from harm.

Tahirih only has two offices in the U.S. Houston has one of them. It opened in September 2009.

Volunteer attorneys have helped 125 women and girls locally. Right now, they have 33 active cases, including Rachel's.

"This is a unique model where you find volunteers who are not necessarily asylum or immigration attorneys," said Michelle Gibbons, an attorney with Mayer Brown.
Here's the attorney's site. Just like the case with Rifqa Bary, this too is a very important case where women fleeing from barbarism need protection from harm.

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