Somy Ali was born in Pakistan and later became a model and Bollywood actress before heading to the United States.
“If I had not lived that life and lived in India and seen the abuse that the women went through and the children went through in India, I don’t think I would have ended up starting No More Tears,” Ali said.
Ali started the non-profit in 2008 after a woman in her community approached her for help. The woman was in an arranged marriage and was beaten for a decade because she wanted to go to school, the woman told Ali.
No More Tears started helping victims of domestic violence because Ali said she “realized that if there’s one woman that is an immigrant here, there has to be so many and they don’t have a social network and they don’t have any support because families don’t want them back home once they’re married. So we needed to do something here within the U.S. to help these women.”
This was a personal journey, she said, one that touches close to home. Ali tells victims that she “can relate” with their struggles because she, too, has been a victim. She is writing an autobiography — a tell all — in hopes of reaching more women.
Her efforts have helped hundreds of victims over the years, but more recently she has expanded her mission to help victims of another crime: modern day slavery.
There were 2,515 suspected incidents of human trafficking opened for investigation between January 2008 and June 2010, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
“Basically we work with a lot of immigrants,” she said. “The women, men, children that are brought here and they’re either sold into sexual slavery or slave labor or child labor. Also women that are brought here from different countries and they’re married to either U.S. citizens or people that are undocumented and then they’re abusing them physically and sexually.”
Human trafficking generates $9.5 billion a year in the United States, according to the United Nations and The Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking, and it is the third most profitable criminal enterprise after drugs and arms trafficking. The most active hubs are in New York, Los Angeles and Florida.
No More Tears helps victims rebuild their lives by giving them the skills they need to survive.
“We believe in empowerment. We don’t just want to give free handouts,” Ali said. “We want to teach them how to fish, so that they can get empowered and learn how to be on their own and be financially independent and don’t go back to the abuser which is a very very very significant reason why victims end up going back because they don’t have any means to support themselves.”
The relationships she has built have been therapeutic for her as well, she added.
“To be able to wake up and know that you are going to save someone today and to go to bed knowing that you’ve saved a child or a man or a woman is just unbelievable. I can’t fathom doing anything else with my life.”
That first victim Ali helped in 2008 has since received a PhD in Pharmacy. Ali attended her graduation. And the organization has grown to include a T-shirt line to help raise funds (worn by singers Fergie and Madonna) and ‘No More Tears’ brochures are placed in local grocery stores, hospitals and police departments.
To date, No More Tears has helped 374 adults and 754 children — victims of domestic violence and human trafficking.
Credit: Walter J. Collins