My name is Ayaan Hirsi Ali. I am an American citizen, a women’s rights advocate and an author. Before all that, though, I was raised in a culture of honor and shame: a culture in which it is honorable to sell your underage daughter as a bride to an older man, a culture in which it is a shame for a girl to date or even wear make-up. To some, I am known as an “Infidel” and “Heretic,” in part because I stand against traditional practices that have been used to justify the abuse and subjugation of women. Collectively, these dangerous practices are known as honor violence. I myself was a victim of honor violence. At the age of five, my genitals were cut away with a razor blade and stitched shut to ensure my “purity” until my wedding night. In my early twenties, my father forced me into an unwanted marriage. To escape the marriage and inevitable retribution from my family, I fled to Holland and went into hiding. I survived, but many girls who face honor violence do not. We at the AHA Foundation are determined to end honor violence in the United States and we need your help. Please stand with us. Together we can stop this practice and save thousands of girls in the US from abuse and - for some - even death. Honor violence is an often-overlooked form of abuse that shames, hurts and kills thousands of women and girls in the US each year and puts millions more at risk. It is typically seen in the form of physical or emotional abuse, sexual assault, rape, or kidnapping, but it also includes forced marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM). Honor violence is condoned and perpetrated by the victim’s family and community. In extreme cases, it can lead to death. Many people assume honor violence happens only in foreign countries, far away from our way of life. The fact is: honor violence is a silent epidemic in the United States, with large communities here who uphold the culture of honor and shame. And it is on the rise. I know because, from across our country, hundreds of frightened women and girls have reached out to the AHA Foundation, seeking help to escape dangerous situations. I know because the least fortunate victims end up in the headlines, murdered in honor killings. For each girl whose name appears in headlines, and for each girl who asks for help, there are countless more in the shadows, suffering in silence and afraid to seek help. On behalf of the girls around the US who suffer abuse at the hands of those who should most seek to protect them – their fathers, mothers, uncles, grandparents, sisters, and brothers – I am taking this fight to Capitol Hill. I am asking President Obama to put in place a comprehensive, strategic action plan to address honor violence in the US. I am asking you to join me in this fight. We will not look away and we will not stop until all our girls are safe and protected. Stand with me and the AHA Foundation today in calling for a national action plan to end honor violence in the United States. Add your voice to mine as I travel to the Hill this spring. Please sign my petition now.
Letter to the President of the United States
Dear President Obama, Honor violence is an often-overlooked form of abuse that shames, hurts and kills thousands of women and girls in the US each year and puts millions more at risk. It is typically seen in the form of physical or emotional abuse, sexual assault, rape or kidnapping, but it also includes forced marriage and female genital mutilation. In the most extreme cases, honor violence can lead to murder.
Many people assume that honor violence happens in foreign countries, thousands of miles from our borders. The fact is: honor violence happens here in the US, across cultures and religions. And it is on the rise. In contrast to other forms of domestic violence, honor violence is often condoned and/or perpetuated by the victim’s family and community – which makes honor violence difficult to identify and prevent. Law enforcement and other professionals who are likely to encounter victims are poorly equipped to handle honor violence. A recent report by the Department of Justice indicates that without training, law enforcement is unlikely to identify cases of honor violence, thus exposing the victims to greater risk. We urge you to put in place a comprehensive and strategic action plan to address honor violence in the US. It is crucial that the US Government collaborate with advocates, survivors, and impacted communities to develop and implement a national action plan that connects federal and state agencies, eliminates gaps in existing programs and services, addresses unmet needs and measures progress towards ending honor violence in the US. Together, we can take a stand against honor violence and protect thousands of women and girls in the US who deserve to live a life free from violence.