Throughout the US, in service stations, restaurants and other public places you’ll see signs identifying a location as a Safe Place. Employees of these locations have been trained to help any youth who asks for it. No shame is attached to the need for assistance. Runaways, kidnap, victims and abused kids can step forward to be rescued from their dangerous situations.
While Safe Place is a national program for youth, regional programs throughout the US offer similar help for abused women of all ages. In many women’s restrooms a discreet sign invites abused women to make their situation known by a phone call or a word to an employee. If you google “wife abuse”, pages and pages of sites offer their assistance.
Whenever a vulnerable person steps forward, they are applauded for their bravery and within in a very short time they are in a shelter specially designed to assist in the beginning of their healing process. A warm bed, a square meal, decent clothing, comforting words, de-tox, prenatal care, child care – whatever is needed to break the cycle of abuse which held a victim captive will be provided. More importantly, even if their abuser discovers where they are, the abuser will gain no access until the victim is equipped to deal with them.
Even in places like America, where the call for help is seen as a sign of bravery, stepping out of the shadows and into the arms of caring people can be hard. Trust is a difficult thing to learn, once it has been stolen.
In The Middle East and Central Asia, with its tradition of subjugation, should a woman or a child cry out for help, their reward is shame. The beating a man gives his wife is a private thing, unless the husband is bragging about it at the local teahouse. A woman keeps these things to herself. Enduring the inevitable beating is a sign of strength.
Among the frivolity of a wedding celebration the evidence of male dominance is clear. In the picture above, the groom greets his bride in the traditional way, by stepping on her shoe. This is emblematic of a woman’s entire life. Her role is to submit and to do so with grace and endurance. Yes, it’s just a small ritual, but would you allow it on your wedding day?
During the celebration it’s not unusual for the men to give advice to the groom concerning the “test beating.” This is a wedding night ritual endured by many new wives until today. Umida, the host of our Uzbek Women’s Program, can tell you how frequently this “test beating” occurs. By administering the ritual of a wedding night beating, a husband can discover the demeanor of his wife. If she doesn’t submit gracefully, she can be returned to her family. If she does submit, you’ve gotten a good one and your family will honor her the next morning in the traditional “welcoming of the bride” ceremony.
Should a wife run to her family or friends for help, she’d be shamed. “What kind of weakling are you? “What did you do to deserve the whipping?” “At least you have a husband and a home. Be grateful.” “You must learn to submit so you can protect your children.” For the honor of the family, the errant wife would be humbly returned to the abuser, but there is no guarantee she would be recieved . In some cases the wife would be severely beaten to demonstrate her family’s shame at her behavior.
God’s Word, the Bible, has a different message for women – a message of equality, hope, and joy. This is the message GHM delivers to The Middle East and Central Asia in programs for women like Shukar Aytaman ( I Am Thankful) and Sweet Conversations. Our children’s programs are designed to deliver the message of worth at a young age. Even our men’s programs underline the respect men should pay women as co-heirs of God’s promises. Reaching women and saving them from abuse is one of our prime objectives. Wouldn’t you like to join us in these efforts?
Help Reap the Harvest
You can partner with Global Heart Ministries to fulfill The Great Commission in this generation in countries and turn fathers into daddies. Together we can bring the light and the truth of Jesus Christ right into the living rooms of every deceived child, every oppressed woman, and every hurting home. This is our message. This is our call.
We invite you to join this vision as a volunteer, a prayer warrior, or a financial donor. Contact us today by phone or email. Let us know how you’d like to partner with us as we reach out to the Most Unreached Regions of the World.