USC Dornsife College Of Letters Arts and Sciences

University of Southern California

Layli Miller Muro: Protecting the Rights of Migrants

Layli Miller Muro: Protecting the Rights of Migrants

Layli Miller Muro: Protecting the Rights of Migrants

As a lawyer and a member of the Baha’i faith, Layli Miller-Muro believes the pursuit of justice is a divine calling. When she was in law school in 1996, Miller-Muro successfully helped represent a young woman from Togo who was seeking asylum in the United States to avoid female genital mutilation and a forced polygamous marriage. The case ultimately changed US law to include gender-based persecution in the grounds for asylum.

Miller-Muro went on to create the Tahirih Justice Center, which provides free legal defense for women fleeing human rights abuses. With five locations across the US, the Tahirih Justice Center has helped more than 27,000 women since 2001.

Miller-Muro says her work is based on two key Baha’i principles: justice and the equality of women and men. She believes her purpose in life is to serve others, because, she says, “when there is suffering somewhere, there is, in fact, suffering everywhere.”

Since this video was filmed, Miller-Muro stepped down as CEO of the Tahirih Juctice Center and continues to consult with other organizations and individuals seeking to address social issues in their work.

This video was produced by Kim Lawton as part of “Spiritual Exemplars: A Global Project on Engaged Spirituality” at the USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture, with support from the John Templeton Foundation and Templeton Religion Trust. Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of the supporting organizations.

Read more stories of engaged spirituality

Kim Lawton is a journalist fellow with the Spiritual Exemplars Project.