Lent Remixed, Week 1: India

February 11, 2013

Last week, we told you about our Lent Remixed project: 7 weeks, 7 countries, 7 causes, 7 items fasted. If you missed it, here's the original post. This week, we chose to focus on India.

I have always dreamed of going to India. My sister-in-law visited the country a few years ago and returned with lush pictures of gorgeous sunsets, historic buildings, and brightly arrayed people. With an estimated 1.2 billion inhabitants, India is the second-most-populated country in the world following China, and has a rich history that has lasted thousands of years (Source: CIA Factbook).

So I was sickened by the reports in mid-December of a woman who was the victim of a horrifying gang rape on a bus in Delhi, India, and later died from the trauma she experienced (see original story and death report). I was further shocked to read that India has been ranked as the worst G20 country in which to be a woman.

That same article referencing India's ranking offered some additional shocking statistics:
  • “Female foetuses [sic] are aborted and baby girls killed after birth, leading to an appallingly skewed sex ratio." The report goes on to say that culturally, sons are preferred over daughters, which helps explain the statistic, as well as why the skewed sex ratio has led to an increase in rapes.
  • “With more than 24,000 reported cases in 2011, rape registered a 9.2% rise over the previous year. More than half (54.7%) of the victims were aged between 18 and 30. Most disturbingly, according to police records, the offenders were known to their victims in more than 94% of the cases. Neighbours accounted for a third of the offenders, while parents and other relatives were also involved. Delhi accounted for over 17% of the total number of rape cases in the country.”
  • “It is not rape alone. Police records from 2011 show kidnappings and abductions of women were up 19.4%, women being killed in disputes over dowry payments by 2.7%, torture by 5.4%, molestation by 5.8% and trafficking by an alarming 122% over the previous year.”
  • “Deaths from fire-related incidents, [researchers] say, is a major cause – each year more than 100,000 women are killed by fires in India. The researchers say many cases could be linked to demands over a dowry leading to women being set on fire.”

The report concludes: “Clearly, many Indian women face threats to life at every stage – violence, inadequate healthcare, inequality, neglect, bad diet, lack of attention to personal health and well-being.”

The disparity is amazing to me. India is a country in which women have held positions of power – including prime minister – so how can this disparity be explained? Even more pressing is the question: How can we help work toward change?
  • Prayer. My prayer this week is for change in India: That God would help alter and overcome any cultural mindset that would privilege men over women, and that instead of rising rates of rape and violence, India would experience a radical decline in those areas. My prayer is that organizations would be able to assist individuals and communities in turning the tide of violence.
  • Fasting. This week, I’m going to be giving up wheat and rice. Since India is the world’s second-largest producer of both, I’ve decided that foregoing these food staples in my family’s diet will help remind me, throughout the week, to pray for the women and people of India.
  • Giving. There are a number of organizations that provide excellent help to India. One of my absolute favorites is International Justice Mission. I read founder Gary Haugen’s book Terrify No More a few years ago, and have continued to have a heart for victims of slavery and trafficking throughout the world. If you want to check out IJM, here’s the link. And for a little glimpse of the hope that IJM and other organizations bring, read this amazing story that was recently posted about how IJM rescued 36 families from slavery in India, including a 3-year-old girl. 
 We would love for you to join us in praying for India this week and in foregoing wheat, rice, or both.

“This is the kind of fast day I’m after:
to break the chains of injustice,
get rid of exploitation in the workplace,
free the oppressed,
cancel debts.
What I’m interested in seeing you do is:
sharing your food with the hungry,
inviting the homeless poor into your homes,
putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad,
being available to your own families.
Do this and the lights will turn on,
and your lives will turn around at once.
Your righteousness will pave your way.
The God of glory will secure your passage.
Then when you pray, God will answer.
You’ll call out for help and I’ll say, ‘Here I am.’”

- Isaiah 58:6-9 (The Message)

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