Brain injuries and severe physical trauma from sexual abuse recently took the life of a 4-year old little girl in Ghansor, India. The murderer lured her from her home with the promise of bananas. This act follows the high profile rape and torture of another five-year old girl in New Delhi – and the sexual assault of other little girls – in recent weeks.
A study released recently by the Asian Center for Human Rights (and reported in the New York Times) states that 43,338 cases of child rape were reported in India from 2001 to 2011. The number of cases reported annually more than tripled during that time to 7,112 in 2011 from 2,113 in 2001. The Center said, “These figures are the only tip of the iceberg as the large majority of child rape cases are not reported. Sexual offenses against children in India have reached an epidemic proportion.”
What’s happening to little girls in India? Experts cite a number of cultural and sociological factors for the dramatic rise in sexual assault (the massive migration of unskilled workers, alcohol consumption, the breakdown of the family – and of course, ever present poverty). Much of what pundits list are certainly contributing factors.
The undisputed root, however, is an age-old Indian worldview that girls matter little in the world. A Hindu scripture says, “Women, men of low caste, and a drum should be beaten.” As young as 5 years old, Indian boys begin to look at girls as subservient, weak, and less than human.
Discrimination begins in the womb with nearly a generation of girls aborted in some areas. Many families continuously produce children until a male child is born. In India:
- Boys have the exclusive right to inherit the family name and property;
- Boys have the advantage of being more productive in agriculture;
- Only boys can perform Hindu religious practices for their parents’ afterlife;
- Boys are a status symbol;
- Only the parents of girls have to pay dowry demands.
There is equality at the foot of the Cross. Meaning Jesus took the sin of the world upon His shoulders as He was crucified on the hill at Calvary. Those who believe are seen as joint heirs with God and equal in His sight. In turn, they extend God’s love and perspective on life to others.
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28 (NIV)
Global Mission at David C Cook is leading the charge to change the way girls are viewed in developing countries – indeed, the way all human beings are viewed. In India, through J127 Clubs, housed mostly in orphanages, children are healed from extreme trauma, including gender-related crimes, and being raised up to serve a God who cares about the dignity and worth of human beings.
The J127 program takes kids through comprehensive, whole life discipleship that digs up rotting roots and replaces them with deep, nourishing and everlasting roots. The curriculum reveals how God values and uses women. It shows women in roles that surprise children. Using powerful role models from the Bible, they learn that women can protect others (Rahab), lead in battle (Deborah and Jael), give wise counsel, even to men (Abigail) and be used as part of God’s grand plan (Elizabeth and Mary). It also intentionally weaves in stories of modern women who are important in Indian society.
Discussion and role-playing are integral parts of the program. Children are taught what godly leadership looks like, including the courage to stand up for the vulnerable – and what to do with anger, bitterness, envy, despair, and other sin that leads violence. We encourage you to read through the curriculum and see how a generation is being raised up to see men and women as God sees them.
Laws and changing mores through social pressure can only bring a people so far. True equality takes place within the human heart. Be a witness to miracles within the hearts of girls and boys. You and a group of friends or a Sunday school class can sponsor a J127 Club. You’ll follow a specific group of children and see firsthand how God transforms lives.
Update: In 2018, David C Cook transferred oversight of the J127 clubs to an in-country partner which continues to shepherd and grow this program. By supporting David C Cook’s Life on Life curriculum, you will be helping support this program as well.