January Newsletter: Our year in review, U.S. government allows thousands of child brides via visa loophole, most visited blogs of 2018, Ohio bans FGM

Dear AHA Foundation Supporter,

As we enter 2019, we look back with a grateful heart at all your support throughout 2018. We are honored that you have chosen to empower our work to protect the liberties of all women and girls from honor violence, forced marriage, and female genital mutilation (FGM). If you missed it, watch our year-end video to see the impact you helped accomplish in 2018.

Often, the impact of our work remains uncertain for months, even years. Such was the case with our discovery and exposure of the immigration loophole that we identified as a powerful driver of child marriage in the U.S. In the summer of 2017, we alerted the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee about this issue and the need to address it urgently. We submitted a Freedom of Information Act request asking that the number of children who have been trapped into marriages through this loophole be researched and released.

Finally, the numbers were released two weeks ago and they are disturbing: 8,686 spousal/fiancé(e) petitions involving children, as young as 14, were approved from 2007 to 2017; this loophole mainly impacts girls – 95% of the approved petitions included female children. Read more here.

We also invite you to revisit our most shared blog posts of 2018. These blogs highlight the resilient, action-inspiring voices of survivors, our close work with legislators and bipartisan coalitions, and our Critical Thinking Fellowship (CTF) campus program.

The end of December brought another breakthrough in the fight against FGM in the U.S. and this time it came from Ohio. Governor John Kasich signed Senate Bill 214 into law which bans female genital mutilation (FGM) in the state! This great news marks another victory for women and girls in the U.S. Ohio is the 28th state to criminalize FGM, 22 states are still left without legislation needed to protect their girls. Thanks to your support, we are working hard to bring that number to 0!

Our fellow in the CTF campus program from Harvard University, Natalie Le, helped organize the Students For Liberty Harvard Conference last fall. Read about the two panels she hosted highlighting stories of individuals who fought for their freedom from oppression and the importance of protecting these freedoms in our society. If you are a student or know one with passion for cultural, religious, or policy issues, please forward them the CTF fellowship description and application link.

With great gratitude for your support,

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Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Founder

Ayaan Hirsi Ali