GFA redoubles efforts to reach Indian women

AP
Indian women participate in a march to mourn the death of a gang rape victim in Hyderabad, India

Gospel For Asia has welcomed the global conversation about the status of Indian women following the brutal rape and murder of a woman in Delhi last month.

An unnamed 23-year-old woman was kidnapped, gang raped and murdered on a Delhi bus on 16 December. She died last weekend as a result of her injuries.

The attack triggered widespread protests and anger about the treatment of Indian women.

Five men are to be charged over the attack and, if convicted, face the death penalty.

Gospel for Asia said the attack had opened the eyes of the world to violence against women in India.

The organisation said conditions were worst among Dalits, who are the lowest castes and considered subhuman.

In addition to rape, the organisation raised concern about the "routine" murders of women through infanticide, gender-based abortion, the dowry system and lack of proper medical care.

It estimates that around 10,000 women are murdered each year because they cannot raise the required dowries for marriage.

Nearly half of all married women (46%) are aged 18 or under, and the marriage of girls aged five to seven, although illegal, is still practised in some rural areas.

One in four rapes takes place in Delhi, but GFA President K P Yohannan says that perhaps as few as one per cent of all rapes are reported.

Although women are the victims, a woman who has been raped is socially outcast from marriage forever and the shame is borne by the entire family.

Mr Yohannan said the conditions for women in India were a "horrendous evil that is worsening".

He welcomed the way in which the latest attack in Delhi has cast a spotlight on the plight of Indian women.

"The long-time abuse women in India endure has now been highlighted," he said.

"Their social stigma and inhuman treatment with impunity make them the one of the largest unreached people groups."

GFA said it is now redoubling its "Women Reaching Women" programme in India.

The programme sends women missionaries out across India to share the love of Christ with other women.

More than 59,000 women in India are enrolled in the microfinance system being administered by GFA female partners. Women are also receiving donations like sewing machines and chickens to support themselves and their families.

With an estimated 46,000 widows being murdered or turned out of their homes each year, GFA's "Women Reaching Women" female partners are providing aid to outcast widows.

"Education for women in the name of Jesus is bringing hope," said Yohannan.

"While India needs enforcement of stricter laws to protect women, ultimate liberation and hope come only through the love of Christ.

"In teaching, we are showing women that Jesus cares about their needs, loves them and answers their prayers."

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