Violence against women continues to be a serious problem. Recent statistics indicate that around 35% of women have experienced violence in their lifetimes. That’s over a third of women worldwide. Thankfully, there are tireless leaders like Layli Miller-Muro fighting to give women the resources they need to escape and survive violence.
Miller-Muro is the founder of the Tahirih Justice Center, an organization dedicated to helping women seek political asylum due to gender-based persecution. She and Fauziya Kassindja are the co-authors of Do They Hear You When You Cry, Kassindja’s story of escaping becoming a child bride in Togo, West Africa and the life threatening cultural practice of genital mutilation. Kassindja escaped to the U.S. and was held in a detention center then moved for many months to a maximum security prison with hardened criminals. Her immigration case was championed by Miller-Muro, then a law school student at American University.
Initially, they lost the case. After appealing to the highest immigration appellate court, they won, setting a national precedent and establishing for the first time gender-based persecution for refugee or asylum status in the U.S.
“All throughout my life I’ve had a strong interest in justice issues. I grew up in the South outside of Atlanta, and there at very young ages I was exposed to some severe racism and became dedicated to trying to address it,” she tells Big Think. In this interview clip, Miller-Muro shares the incredible story of how she went from being a law student to founding the Tahirih Justice Center, providing free legal services, job placement assistance, and counseling to help women escaping gender persecution lead safe and productive lives in the U.S.