A Word of Hope by Inja Jeong, North East Asia Regional Coordinator
Hidden behind the façade of an apparently normal or happy family may be violence that we cannot see.
Think about the two words making up the term “family violence.” Would you say that these two words sit comfortably with each other? I would say not. “Family” brings to mind the ideas of warmth and security. But when violence enters a household, it becomes a place of fear. The victims of family violence live with embarrassment, fear and a sense of rejection.
God is extremely displeased with anyone who uses violence to manipulate another person. God has not set a hierarchy of value or importance between a husband and a wife nor between parents and their children. God has assigned each member of the family his or her appropriate role and responsibility so as to ensure order in the family. We must remind ourselves that we are created in God’s image and so is the other person. This means we cannot treat anyone else with disrespect.
Adults aren’t the only ones affected by family violence. Children are also frequently victimized. Statistics show that children who are exposed to family violence are more likely to grow up to become violent, commit crimes or contemplate suicide.
Female genital mutilation is a form of family violence. FGM is a custom in certain parts of Africa where polygamy is prevalent. It is thought that this practice arose out of a polygamist husband’s attempt to prevent his wives from engaging in extramarital affairs as he would struggle to meet the sexual desires of all of his wives at all times.
Little girls are forced to undergo FGM by their mothers. Some mothers even perform FGM on their own daughters. Other times, elder women of the village perform the procedure.
According to a study undertaken by the United Nations in 2013, 200 million women have experienced FGM and another person falls victim to FGM every nine seconds. FGM is not merely a religious preference, it infringes upon human rights.
Fortunately, many countries in Africa are becoming increasingly supportive of banning FGM. The Sudanese government recently outlawed all FGM practices. However, the United Nations reports that FGM is still persistent in at least 90 countries, many of them outside Africa. FGM is so deeply rooted in certain countries that legislative measures against it are not entirely effective. Nonetheless, FGM is a menace that must be completely eliminated.
FGM of young girls is strongly related to the mother’s level of education. Data across 28 countries show that one in every five daughters of uneducated women were subjected to FGM whereas only one in every nine daughters of women who received at least secondary education were subjected to the practice. This is why we at TWR strive to educate women about this problem through our prayer movements and broadcasting.
Is there hope for victims of family violence, including the scourge of FGM? Yes, indeed. There is a reason for hope even in the midst of the most terrible environment.
1 John 4:4: "You, dear children, are from God and have overcome [the spirits of the world], because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”
Let us pray for the women facing family violence. We will pray that they will be free of the burden they never deserved. We will encourage these women to look to God, who will give them hope in place of their heavy burden. Let them know that there are unimaginable blessings ahead. God will make all things work together for good.