In his New York Times column recently Nicholas Kristoff tells about Saba, a young woman who was shot in the head by her father. Why? Because she had disobeyed him by falling in love and marrying without her father’s permission. It is estimated that over 1000 honor killings take place in Pakistan every year, but very few perpetrators are brought to justice. Courageously, Saba attempted to have her father arrested, but . . . .
You’ll meet Saba herself in A Girl in the River, nominated for the Oscars’ short documentary award. Kistoff says whether or not it wins the nomination, it is worth viewing. This travesty against young women must stop. (I confess I didn’t watch the Oscars)
Pakistan is far away and probably doesn’t seem like an issue in this country. But I just read Hiding in the Light by Rifqa Bary who faced the threat of death because she dared to . . . become a Christian. She was able to keep her faith secret for several years, but when her father found out, he threatened to send her to Sri Lanka to marry an old Muslim man, and the local mosque stood by him . In fact, they are still threatening to sue the American family who protected sixteen-year-old Rifqa when she ran away from home.
Whether it’s honor killing, trafficking, limiting education to boys first or killing new born girls—the treatment of women and girls in many countries calls us to compassion and action. I’ve spent over five years writing a biographical fiction about Katharine Bushnell, MD, a Christian activist who investigated and exposed the sex trade in the US and India at the end of the nineteenth century. Lighthouse Publishing tells me the book will be released by December 1, 2016.
Fifth appeal postponed for Asia Bibi
Pakistan (MNN) — Imprisoned in 2010 and sentenced to death for blasphemy, Pakistani Christian Asia Bibi has had her appeal postponed for the fifth time. No new date has been set for her to appeal her death sentence. Blasphemy is a serious crime in Pakistan, and anyone accused receives harsh treatment from the courts. Asia is the mother of five. Her husband and children have gone into hiding. Asia is held in solitary confinement many miles from her family. Several Pakistani leaders who have attempted to help mitigate her case have been killed, so it’s possible the judge is afraid to reverse her death penalty—hence the postponement.
This young women in her late twenties faces a different enslavement from trafficking. But she is locked into a life of hopelessness– a life of fear and loneliness. Her crime? She defended Jesus Christ, her Lord, when a group of villagers working in a fruit orchard refused her water because she was a Christian.
One can only imagine the word battle that followed as she defended her right to drink from the village well. A likely scenario– the irate women went home to their husbands angrily denouncing Asia’s religion, accusing her of blasphemy against Mohammed. The news spread, a crowd gathered and raced to the police station. Once the accusation was carried to the police, there was no turning back. Asia was found guilty of blasphemy, sentenced to hang and has languished in a dirty, bug-infested, prison, cooking her own meager meals to avoid being poisoned by guards or other inmates for almost four years. Its reported that her family– husband and five children– are moving from house to house, even to other cities, to seek safety.
Jesus came to free captives unjustly held–captives bound by every kind of evil. His mission statement in Luke 4 was based on the words of Isaiah the prophet. “The Spirit pf the Sovereign Lord is upon me, because the Lord has appointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to announce that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed. Isaiah 61:l,2.
Many are working behind the scenes to free Asia. Those of us who can’t lobby, work through the halls of justice and power, can at least pray for her health, and peace of mind that God has not forgotten her.