Dear AHA Foundation Supporter,
In this month’s newsletter we bring you two important voices, one of a forced marriage survivor from the US and the other an advocate from Great Britain, both focused on breaking the silence against forms of honor violence in the West.
Raised in rural Michigan in a tight-knit Evangelical Christian community, Nina Van Harn was forced into marriage at the age of 19, where for many years she suffered severe psychological and sexual abuse at the hands of the husband her father chose for her. When she looks back at these difficult years, Nina describes her past self as “a shell of a person living in a haze.” Nina managed to fight her way through the pain and out of the haze, and this year made history by becoming the first person in the state of Michigan to win an annulment from the marriage because she had been forced into it. Thankfully, Nina is not content with this triumph and continues to fight by speaking out for others who are facing unwanted marriages.
Voices of survivors are amplified when joined with those of advocates, people who choose not to sit on sidelines but instead use their skills and experience to make a difference. Such is the voice of Abda Khan, a British-Pakistani lawyer and author of the novel Stained. In her novel, Abda tells the story of a young immigrant girl who, after being raped, is torn between the need to seek justice and the pressure to hide the abuse to preserve her family’s “honor.” While her novel is a work of fiction, it is inspired by and a tribute to women Abda met throughout her life. Read more here about her inspiration and reasons for writing this influential novel.
At the end of October, I was honored to receive the Christians and Jews United for Israel’s 11th Annual Genesis Award. I am thankful to my wonderful supporters who came out to congratulate me for this honor. Read more about my speech at the ceremony and this award here.
Every year around this time, I find myself reminiscing about what I am thankful for. I am forever thankful for the freedoms I have and the incredible support I have received from people like you. Courageous people like Nina and Abda only push me harder to fight for the oppressed because a person’s freedom should never be optional.
Thanks to your support, your voices – together we can make my vision a reality.
To hear more about what I’m thankful for, you can read my “What I’m Thankful For” article in Time. It’s one I wrote a few years back but rings just as true today.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Founder, The AHA Foundation