Women ‘caste’-aways - India’s covert genocide

Friday, January 11, 2013
Michael F. Haverluck (OneNewsNow.com)

The Texas-based ministry Gospel for Asia touches tens of thousands of women across India, where Dalit women are typically treated as lower than subhuman. But the ministry -- after putting the plight of those women into perspective -- knows it still has much work to do.

IndiaAt 1.2 billion, India's population is poised to pass China's (1.3 billion), but one frequently overlooked fact is that one quarter of India's inhabitants are considered outcasts or "untouchables" -- commonly known as Dalits -- who are considered subhuman.

The notorious caste system of India places the 400 million Indians (about 100 million more than the entire U.S. population) on the bottom at an extreme disadvantage from birth -- and worse yet if you're a female Dalit ... considerably worse.

Numbers don't lie

Perhaps numbers can speak greater volumes than words when it comes to the depravity of the condition facing millions of women across India, as Dalit women are typically treated as lower than subhuman.

Gospel for Asia, based in the Dallas suburb of Carrollton, touches tens of thousands with its "Women Reaching Women" Indian outreach; and after crunching the numbers to put the plight of women into perspective, the ministry is fully aware that it still has much work to do.

In a country that is predominantly Hindu, a religion that values men over women and the sanctity of the caste system, females are considered of much less worth than males. The demographics for untouchables reflects this, as men outnumber women by the ratio of 1,000 to 850.

And what's to blame?

According to GFA, the "routine murders of women through infanticide, gender-based abortion, the dowry system and lack of proper medical care" are the major contributing factors to the dwindling number of women in India.

When comparing the 254 per 100,000 mortality rate of Indian women in childbirth to the 21 per 100,000 of women in the United States, many find it shocking that the Indian death rate is 12 times higher.

But even more startling is the condition of women -- or girls -- when it comes to marriage.

"Of all married Indian women, 46 percent are age 18 or under," GFA reports. "Marriage of girls age five to seven, although illegal, is still practiced in some rural areas."

And what about those who never make it to the altar? "Approximately 10,000 women are murdered annually when they cannot raise the required dowries for marriage," the report continues.


The dismal figures don't get better, as GFA president K.P. Yohannan contends that the treatment of women in India is "a horrendous evil that is worsening.

"An estimated one in four rapes in India takes place in Delhi, now dubbed 'the rape capital of India,'" Yohannan points out. "A high percentage of these are by family members. The most recent statistic on record of 21,000 rapes in 2008 has risen dramatically, with many authorities estimating as few as one percent of all rapes reported."

As if rape weren't enough, once it occurs, its victims are considered social outcasts who are never allowed to marry. In addition, their families are condemned to permanently live in shame.

"The long-time abuse women in India endure has now been highlighted," Yohannan asserts in light of the latest analysis. "Their social stigma and inhuman treatment with impunity make them the one of the largest unreached people groups."

Turning the tide

After the death of an unmarried New Delhi woman who was brutally raped around New Year's, the oppression and abysmal treatment of Indian women has received heightened attention globally.

"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."   - K.P. Yohannon

GFA's leader attributes many recent strides to counter and expose the tragic abuse of women in India to state involvement -- spurred by the aforementioned incident.

"I am grateful for how the Prime Minister and Sonia Gandhi, along with government agencies, are responding to this outcry," Yohannan shared. "Positive steps are being taken."

But he realizes that women's true freedom and deliverance comes from Christ, not government policies and programs.

"Education for women in the name of Jesus is bringing hope," contends Yohannan, whose ministry reports that Indian women "are often the last allowed to eat and the first to be kept illiterate," but that they are now "learning to read and write and being educated on their human rights."

And some might see reaching out in the name of Christ a particularly daunting task in India, as 81 percent of India's 1.2 billion inhabitants are Hindu, 13 percent are Muslim, and only two percent are Christian. Yet GFA's Women Reaching Women has already enrolled more than 59,000 women in its microfinance system, which is implemented by the organization's female partners so that the women can provide for themselves using contributions from GFA donors, such as chickens and sewing machines.

Taking into consideration that 46,000 widows are murdered or kicked out of their homes in the Hindu nation each year, Women Reaching Women is directly assisting outcast widows.

Not stopping there, the ministry from women to women has also taken an active role to educate the children of urban prostitutes so that they will not repeat their mothers' depraved lifestyles. It is noted that approximately 60,000 needy children in India are receiving meals, education and healthcare from the 580 Bridge of Hope institutions run by GFA.

And while it is important that oppressed women and children's physical needs are met, the ministry leader insists that their spiritual needs are greater and that Christ's message of love and hope is the only true panacea for the destitution in which they find themselves.

"While India needs enforcement of stricter laws to protect women, ultimate liberation and hope come only through the love of Christ," said Yohannan. "In teaching, we are showing women that Jesus cares about their needs, loves them and answers their prayers."

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