Violence against women, especially domestic violence, is a major problem in India. About one-third of women between the ages of 15 and 49 have experienced domestic violence here. Sadly, the problem is also prevalent among believers within the church. Ending Gendercide (EG) is committed to address this issue and to educate people about the value of women and God’s perspective on marriage and family relationships.
EG staff regularly visit new churches and introduce their domestic violence training. Whoever is interested from the congregation is invited to come together once a month for three months to learn. In mid-September, EG held an award ceremony to celebrate those who had completed their latest training.
One of the participants, Mira, is a married woman with a teenage son. She says she has learned since childhood that it was normal for men to be controlling, overpowering and violent. She never felt it was right but it was simply the way things were everywhere. She comes from a Hindu family but by a twist of life married a culturally Christian man. He made her go to church but when she became an actual believer, her passion for Christ started concerning her husband. He wanted to keep her in check and became more violent as time passed. Women have no brain, he would say.
In Mira’s opinion, men are not much different in the church. They discriminate against women and use scripture to support their behavior. They teach that men are greater and they are the only ones who can teach others. She has learned at the EG training that women have infinite value, and that God has given them gifts and talents too. They can teach, they can lead, they have a powerful voice. She has learned that men and women actually complement and need each other.
Her husband is catching on now, and so is their son. Their extended family members, who live in the same building, can tell the difference. They see that her husband is treating her with more respect, that she is doing her work at home with more joy, and that their son listens to them and his attitude is in sharp contrast to the other kids in the family.
Mira is happy to share with neighbors, friends, and other women at church what she has been learning. Some of them have even joined the training. Although change is slow and difficult, the more people understand that women deserve respect, the more repentance, healing, and renewal can happen in families and in the church.
The award ceremony is not a simple event of handing out papers. There are testimonies from some participants and a sermon on the powerful women in Moses’ story and the important roles God gave them. We watch a short movie about the everyday dangers of being a woman here, and each church group performs a creative response to what they have learned.
Ajeet, another participant, seems especially joyful during the event. He explains that he had not realized before this training how oppressed women were here—that even in their families, they are treated like servants. Until now it all seemed normal and natural to him. But after talking about these issues, he noticed that life in India is centered around men, while most women are not respected or safe. Even when domestic violence happens in a home, others do not get involved to protect women and girls.
Now, Ajeet knows which organizations can help when women experience violence. He has learned how to teach other men about domestic violence and he has shared both in his church and in his office. Most men listen and consider the message.
Earlier in his marriage he would get mad and throw things, becoming aggressive, but now he checks his behavior and controls himself. He feels he has to live out what he has learned. He can only tell others to change if he himself changes. His wife and daughter also participated in the training but not his son. Ajeet says he will tell him about these things when he gets married.
Every person who learns the truth about God creating men and women with equal value has the power and possibility to change their perspective and actions and to share with others. This way, step by step, the culture of oppressing women can change, starting with the church, and we can come closer to the kind of life and relationships God designed us for.
••••••••••Written by Adrienn