Young Women Speak Out Against Forced Marriage, Racism

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local News

By: Ashmar Mandou

Young South Asian members of the Pomegranate Tree Group, in partnership with Tahirih Justice Center, began on a six-city tour to address the lives of young women forced into marriage, gender-based violence, racism, and patriarchy. “Honoring Our Heartbeats: A Tour to End Forced Marriage in the U.S.,” is the name of the tour and will make a stop in Chicago on January 21st through 23rd bringing three events including a multimedia performance, workshop, and issue briefing. The tour is inspired by a comic book, “Heartbeats: The IZZAT Project,” written by women in the spirit of celebrating resiliency in the face of violence.

“We are so excited to bring this national tour to the Chicago area. Forced marriage is a human rights abuse that impacts everyone across the country, regardless of gender, age, ethnicity, or religion. Friday’s multimedia performance at the University of Illinois at Chicago is an event that should not be missed. Every time I see the performance, I get goose bumps because these courageous, young women are speaking out against the spectrum of violence they’ve experienced within and against their communities. They felt their voices being left out of the mainstream dialogue about violence,” said Heather Heiman, Tahirih Justice Center Forced Marriage Initiative Project Manager and Senior Public Policy Attorney. “Now, through this performance and tour, they are sparking open and honest dialogue about very difficult and complex issues, including family violence, forced marriage, patriarchy, racism, and rape. For me, it’s been amazing to see how the performance sparks new dialogue in each city we visit, and I can’t wait to see this happen in Chicago.”

The U.S. government recognizes forced marriage as a violation of human rights, and a 2011 national survey by Tahirih identified as many as 3,000 cases encountered across the U.S. in a two-year period. Yet, according to Heiman forced marriage remains a hidden issue in this country. “Honoring Our Heartbeats,” will host an issue briefing on Wednesday, Jan. 21st at Mayer Brown LLP, 71 S. Wacker Dr., from 12:30p.m., to 2p.m. On Thursday, Jan. 22nd, a training workshop will take place at The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, 55 E. Jackson Blvd., suite 2075, from 1 to 5p.m. Lastly, the multimedia performance and community forum will take place on Friday, Jan. 23rd at the UIC Student Center East, 750 S. Halsted St., at 329 Cardinal Room from noon to 1:30p.m. For more information, visit

Photo Credit: Preston Gannaway

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