Poised on the threshold of young womanhood back in the late 60s, I embraced (flung open wide my good-Catholic girl-honor-student-achiever arms) the women’s liberation movement—or at least parts of it.
Actually, I picked and chose from the counterculture and women’s lib agendas as though they were shopping lists: same employment opportunities as men? Yes. Same pay? Definitely. Same political power? Why not? The same sexual freedoms? Most assuredly.
Did I want to go into mandatory military front-line duty? No. Did I want a guy to pay for dinner on a date? Yes.
So I took off my bra, liberated woman that I was, lived in a tepee on a mountain top, and played my newly acquired sexual empowerment card.
And that was about it. I know, I know, a shallow take on Gloria Steinem’s idea of a liberated woman.
Decades later, I’m all for gender equality, but my focus on women’s rights has shifted to the Millions of women, for whom “rights” is not a matter of equal opportunity in the work place or paycheck, or choosing with whom they can freely sleep.
For Millions of women around the globe, women’s rights is a matter of Life or Death.
Recently I watched the documentary film, Veil of Tears. It opens with the love story of Emperor Shah Jahan who loved his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal, “The Chosen One of the Palace,” so much he built a mausoleum of unsurpassed beauty in her memory.
The Taj Mahal. It’s ironic that India’s treasured wonder of the world is a love tribute to a woman, because females—girls, women, wives, mothers, daughters, grandmothers, widows—are culturally persecuted simply because they are born as a she, not he.
Still? we say. In the world’s largest democracy? Home to some of the top cities in the world for billionaires. Castes and cast-outs?
A newlywed bride is burned alive every hour because she can’t satisfy her husband’s dowry demands?
50,000 female children are aborted every month(?!) in South Asia because they can’t carry on the family name, work the fields, or bring honor? (Consequently, there are about 37 million more men than women.)
1.2 Million(!!) children are prostituted? (Families often sell their children in hopes that the people who have the money to buy them will have the money to raise them. Can’t put a face on this? Think of your daughter.)
And 46 million widows are left to scavenge for life because they are “bad luck?” (No matter how their husband died—run over by a train or fallen off a ladder, the wife is responsible for the curse of death and is rejected by family and society.)
The abuse of women is so high that many choose suicide—at the rate of 20 times the world average.
(These statistics according to Gospel for Asia).
It’s difficult for me, as a Westerner, to fathom such things. It’s difficult to sit in the comfort of my recliner, Mac Air on my lap and write about abuses halfway around the world and think that there is anything I can do that would matter, the need is so overwhelming.
But it’s difficult not to do anything. Of all the “causes” in the world with which we can involve ourselves, I believe God has called me to pray for, write about, support in some small way, enslaved women around the world.
My focus today is the ministry of the Gospel for Asia. I like that sharing the gospel is an integral part of their humanitarian aid and yet they don’t just say, “Peace. Peace,” and go their way. They have several resource packages, including this movie for you to use if interested in knowing more. Stop on over and see if this is something you’d be interested in being involved with.
For my small part, I’ll buy some sewing machines for the widows (hopefully the ones on Widows Island in the Bay of Bengal—they are my prayer focus) and pray and tell you about them occasionally, and maybe God will put someone on your heart too.
And maybe, through our small efforts, one woman at a time will don the name Mumtaz Mahal—"The Chosen One of the Palace.” His palace.
Blessings friends as we enter this month of July with thoughts of freedom and sacrifice and all good things American.