The Apology

The other night when my husband and I were watching TVO, we saw a clip of director Tiffany Tsiung’s latest film, The Apology.  The film is about the more than  200,000 women and girls across Asia who were forced into sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army during the Second World War.  “Now in their 80s and 90s, these former comfort women are demanding an official apology from a reluctant Japanese government. This documentary follows the heart wrenching and transformative journeys of Grandma Gil in South Korea, Grandma Cao in China, and Grandma Adela in the Philippines as they confront their painful past.”

What are “comfort women”?  “Comfort women were women and girls forced into sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army in occupied territories before and during World War II.  The name “comfort women” is a translation of the Japanese ianfu, an euphemism for “prostitutes”.”

The Japanese had what they thought were legitimate reasons for establishing the comfort stations.  It was to prevent rape crimes committed by Japanese army personnel which would curb the rise of hostility among people in occupied areas.  The Japanese Army established the comfort stations to prevent venereal diseases and rape by Japanese soldiers, to provide comfort to soldiers and head off espionage.

The first comfort station was established in the Japanese concession in Shanghai in 1932.  Earlier comfort women were Japanese prostitutes who volunteered for such service.  However, as Japan continued military expansion, the military found itself short of Japanese volunteers, and turned to the local population to coerce women into serving in these stations, or abducted them.  Many women responded to calls for work as factory workers or nurses, and did not know that they were being pressed into sexual slavery.

How anyone could think that providing women for comfort to soldiers was a good idea, is beyond me.  These women suffered such atrocities, it is heart wrenching.  “Approximately three quarters of comfort women died, and most survivors were left infertile due to sexual trauma or sexually transmitted diseases.  Beatings and physical torture were said to be common. The women who not were prostitutes prior to joining the “comfort women corps”, especially those taken in by force, were normally “broken in” by being raped.

One Korean women, Kim Hak-sun stated in a 1991 interview about how she was drafted into the “comfort women corps” in 1941: “When I was 17 years old, the Japanese soldiers came along in a truck, beat us [her and a friend], and then dragged us into the back. I was told if I were drafted, I could earn lots of money in a textile factory…The first day I was raped and the rapes never stopped…I was born a woman but never lived as a woman…I feel sick when I come close to a man. Not just Japanese men, but all men-even my own husband who saved me from the brothel. I shiver whenever I see a Japanese flag…Why should I feel ashamed? I don’t have to feel ashamed.” Kim stated that she was raped 30-40 times a day, everyday of the year during her time as a “comfort woman”. 

Comfort women were seen as female ammunition and public toilets, to be used and abused.  They were forced to donate blood for the treatment of wounded soldiers.  The Korean women made up at least 80% of the “comfort women” but were assigned to the lower ranks while Japanese and European women were reserved for the officers.  In Korea, premarital sex is widely disapproved of so the Korean teenagers who were taken into the “comfort women corps” were virgins.  It was believed that this was the best way to limit the spread of venereal diseases to the soldiers and sailors because they didn’t want them to be incapacitated.

After what these women have endured, it is high time that the Japanese government apologizes to them.  They are the voices of the other women who died, their cries against the injustice they suffered silenced forever.  It is time for the Japanese government to step up and do what is right.

Here’s the trailer.  If you live in Canada, you can watch the film on TVO tonight at 9pm.

Source:  Wikipedia

Harper Lee

I never expected any sort of success with Mockingbird. I was hoping for a quick and merciful death at the hands of the reviewers but, at the same time, I sort of hoped someone would like it enough to give me encouragement. Public encouragement. I hoped for a little, as I said, but I got rather a whole lot, and in some ways this was just about as frightening as the quick, merciful death I’d expected. – Harper Lee, quoted in Newquist, 1964

Just found out that Harper Lee, author of To Kill A Mockingbird, died this morning in her sleep at the age of 89.

I never read the book but loved the movie.  Scout’s friend, Dill Harris, was inspired by Harper’s childhood friend and neighbor, Truman Capote.  Capote mentioned that the character Boo Radley was based on a real man who lived down the road from where the two friends lived.  “In my original version of Other Voices, Other Rooms I had that same man living in the house that used to leave things in the trees, and then I took that out. He was a real man, and he lived just down the road from us. We used to go and get those things out of the trees. Everything she wrote about it is absolutely true. But you see, I take the same thing and transfer it into some Gothic dream, done in an entirely different way.”

To Kill A Mockingbird was an immediate success, winning the Pulitzer Prize.  Through the eyes of two children we see racism in Alabama during the Great Depression when a black man goes on trial for the rape of a white woman.  Harper dealt honestly with the issues of tolerance and justice in a divided Southern society.  One of the scenes that I remember was when Atticus and his children faced a vicious lynch mob in the middle of the night.

The novel is renowned for its warmth and humor, despite dealing with the serious issues of rape and racial inequality. The narrator’s father, Atticus Finch, has served as a moral hero for many readers and as a model of integrity for lawyers. One critic explains the novel’s impact by writing, “In the twentieth century, To Kill a Mockingbird is probably the most widely read book dealing with race in America, and its protagonist, Atticus Finch, the most enduring fictional image of racial heroism.” – Wikipedia

Notes to Women salute Harper Lee who was not afraid to address serious issues such as rape and racial inequality.

The book to read is not the one which thinks for you, but the one which makes you think. No book in the world equals the Bible for that. 

From childhood on, I did sit in the courtroom watching my father argue cases and talk to juries.  

 

Sources:  Wikipedia; Brainy Quotes; Common Sense Media

World Toilet Day

2.4 billion People do not have adequate sanitation. 1 billion people still defecate in the open. Poor sanitation increases the risk of disease and malnutrition, especially for women and children. Women and girls risk rape and abuse, because they have no toilet that offers privacy – UN

Can you imagine not having a toilet in your home?  It is unthinkable for a woman.  Imagine having to go to the bathroom in the bushes.  What happens when you need to go in the night?  I wouldn’t be able to cope.  At night, I get up a couple of times to go to the bathroom which is conveniently next door to the bedroom.  In fact, there are three toilets in our home.  Many people have more than one toilet in their homes but in some parts of the world there are people who don’t even have access to a toilet.

I cringed as I read stories of people having to use woody areas as their toilets.  Read Piya’s story and try to imagine being in her shoes.  Unable to afford a proper bathroom you and your children have to hide yourselves in the woods to relieve yourselves.  Imagine how humiliating this would be for you.  If you have daughters, imagine how they would feel.  There is always that element of danger due to lack of privacy.  Then, think of how fortunate you are that you have a toilet in your home with a door you can lock when you want your privacy.

This year’s World Toilet Day will focus on the link between sanitation and nutrition. The aim is to make the world aware of the important role that toilets play in better nutrition and improved health.  According to the UN, lack of access to clean drinking water and sanitation, along with the absence of good hygiene practices, are among the underlying causes of poor nutrition.

The aim of World Toilet Day is to raise awareness about the people in the world who don’t have access to a toilet, despite the fact that it is a human right to have clean water and sanitation – UN

On World Toilet Day, I encourage you to take action.  Talk to your children.  Tell them how important toilets are in protecting people from poor sanitation and health risks.  Talk to your friends, co-workers, neighbors, church members.   Raise awareness.  Get on social media and call for action by using the hashtags #WorldToiletDay and #UrgentRun.

Through Gospel for Asia you can provide a family with an outdoor toilet.  Find out how here.

You can join an Urgent Run.  Find an activity near where you live or work.  Get the word out that everyone, everywhere should have access to a clean, safe toilet and proper sanitation.  For women and children, having a clean toilet means better health, safety and dignity and so much more.

Your toilet is more important than you think – World Toilet Organization

Sources:  Gospel for AsiaUN; World Toilet

Gender-Selective Infanticide

Over 50,000 baby girls are aborted every month in South Asia – just because they were girls – Gospel for Asia

According to writer and gender-activist Rita Banerji,  “Females are being killed in India at every stage of life, before and after birth, only because they are female”  It has been said that the three deadliest words in the world are “It’s a girl”.  The birth of a girl is not celebrated.  It leads to infanticide or trafficking.

UNICEF states that the killing of baby girls has reached genocidal proportions. It is a practice that has gone on “in central India for a long time, where mothers were made to feed the child with salt to kill the girl.” Various other gruesome methods of murder are employed, many dating back to the 18th Century: stuffing the baby girl’s mouth with a few grains of coarse paddy causing the child to choke to death is one, poisoning, using organic or inorganic chemicals, drowning, suffocation, starvation and breaking the spinal cord, as well as burying the child alive.

What possible reasons could families have for murdering their baby girls?

  • Extreme poverty.  The inability to afford raising a child.
  • The dowry system.  This practice was supposed to have been abolished but it still exists.  Poorer families in rural regions fear being unable to raise a suitable dowry and being socially ostracised.
  • Children conceived from rape
  • Deformed children born to impoverished families
  • Unmarried mothers not having reliable, safe and affordable birth control
  • Relationship difficulties
  • Low income
  • Lack of support coupled with postpartum depression

A girl is seen as an economic burden to her family–an unwanted expense while the boy is seen as their source of income.  What about the women who have generated income for their families through the use of a sewing machine?  Girls can be and are sources of income for their families. All they need is to be given the opportunities.

The girls are murdered for two reasons–the dowry, as mentioned earlier and the unwillingness of their families to marry them to men from a rival caste/tribe.  Parents would rather murder their daughter than to allow her to marry someone from a lower caste.  And the girls who survive are mistreated and neglected.  They are unloved, uneducated and kept at home where they are forced to do household chores.  For them the future is bleak and hopeless.

From the time they are born, South Asian women face pain, rejection, cruelty, suffering and discrimination.  The Veil of Tears:  Hope is on the Way is a documentary film which gives us a glimpse into the lives and hearts of these women for whom adversity is the norm.  Take a look at the behind scenes video of “Veil of Tears:  Hope is on the Way”.

I was deeply affected when Natalie Grant shared what she saw when she went to the Red Light District in Mumbai.  Little girls as young as 5 were for sale.  She and her husband had an opportunity to tour a brothel where they saw tiny rooms with beds lined up and one of them had a rope tied at the end of it.  At first she was hesitant to ask about this but when she did, she was told that there was no daycare . These were working women but there was no where for them to drop off their children.  “This woman has her 18 month old daughter that she tetters to the end of the bed while she’s forced to work so that she knows where she is.  These are the things my husband and I say wrecked us for life”  As a mother, can you imagine working in a brothel and having your child right there in the room with you?  Yet, women are forced to turn to prostitution i order to take care of their children.  And there is no one who will take care of their children while they work.

On CBN, Natalie shared another heartbreaking story, “I was walking down the street in Mumbai, in broad daylight, when my eyes locked on a little girl, maybe 6 or 7 years old, peering out of a cage, looking at us on the street below. It was beyond my imagination.  I’ll never forget that moment. That was her life. Every day people walked by, and they didn’t even notice her.”

Can you imagine you or your daughter being kept in a cage like an animal and people are just walking by as this is nothing out of the ordinary?

When we see how these girls and women are treated by society, we realize that the problems we face are nothing compared to what they have had to endure.  This why God has brought their stories to our awareness so that we can tell others.  We can be the voice of the voiceless.

“Veil of Tears” tells the stories of women who are just like every other woman in the world, except that these women are brutalized, they’re despised, they’re persecuted culturally, simply because they are women and this has been going on for generations – Kenny Saylors

Thankfully, there is hope.

…God is restoring dignity to the women who have been utterly just downtrodden – Kyle Saylors

And God is not just changing their hearts, He’s changing their lives.  He’s changing their everyday lives – Kenny Saylors

We can bring hope to the girls and women of South Asia–the hope they can find only in Jesus by supporting the Veil of Tears film.  Here are ways you can make a difference.  Take action today. Get the word out about the plight of women in Asia.

The most overwhelming part of the whole trip was visiting a village and seeing women who had been restored and seeing what true hope actually does in the life of someone that it actually can make them new, that no matter how broken, no matter how desolate, there is still hope – Natalie Grant

Sources:  Gospel for Asia; World and Media; Wikipedia; Counterpunch

A Missionary for God

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God – 2 Corinthians 1:3, 4

Consider the plight of women in South Asia.  Here are some horrifying facts:

  • Young girls throughout Asia are ravenously abducted and forced into a life of prostitution with every agonizing day one step closer to an early death from AIDS.
  • Widows in India bear the blame for their husbands’ deaths. They’re shunned by their communities, rejected by their families and forced into an inhumane lifestyle. Tens of thousands take their own lives just to end the pain.
  • Every year in India, more than 7,000 women are doused with kerosene and burned to death—by their husbands. The wife’s crime: an insufficient dowry.

Suicide rate among women in India is up to 21 times higher than the world’s average.  Lately, the number of incidents of rape have increased following several high-profile cases of young girls being brutally raped in public areas.  According to a global poll conducted by Thomson Reuters, India is the “fourth most dangerous country” in the world for women, and the worst country for women among the G20 countries.

Women in Asia are constantly faced with misery, violence, degradation, rejection, abuse, etc.  Yet, there is hope in the midst of this vicious cycle.  Women missionaries are dedicating their lives to reaching out to these women, bringing the love of Christ to them and showing them that there is light at the end of the tunnel.  One of these beacons of hope is Ruth.  Ruth was once like these women–living a life filled with pain and heartache.  Unloved, unwanted, underfed and forced to work at the age of five simply because she was born a girl.  Her parents had desperately wanted a son after having three girls. Ruth’s father hated her and when she asked him why, he shouted that she should have been a boy.

Ruth’s life changed years later when women missionaries from Gospel for Asia shared the Good News of a God who loved her.  She had never known what it was like to be loved and here these women were telling her about a Father who loved her.  What amazing and wonderful news.  Watch her story here and see how God called her to change the lives of women through missionary work just as He had done for her.

The wonderful thing about Ruth’s story is how God transformed her father, making it possible for her  to have the relationship she had always wanted.  The last time Ruth had seen her father was when she had tried to touch his feet, out of honour and he had kicked her in the face.  After that experience, she left home, not intending to ever go back. While she was at Bible college, preparing to serve God, God was working on her father, changing his heart.  And when the time was right, God brought them together.  It had been three years since she had seen him.  At the train station where he went to meet her, she knelt down to touch his feet but this time, instead of kicking her away, he took her by her arms and lifted her to her feet. And for the first time in her life, Ruth felt her father’s arms wrap around her in a warm embrace.  She felt two arms drawing her to him instead of pushing her away.  She felt loved and accepted.  For Ruth, it felt, “like heaven has come down.”  Yes, heaven had come down.  God had made this precious moment possible.

It was through women missionaries, God turned Ruth’s life around so it is not at all surprising that she responded to His call to be a missionary so that through her, other women could find “triumphant, redeeming hope in Christ!”  As a missionary, she could make a difference.  There was purpose in her life now.  She could go from place to place, sharing her testimony and praying with women and bringing them hope.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope – Jeremiah 29:11

As I watched Ruth in the mission field, I thought of Jeremiah.  When Jeremiah was still in his mother’s womb, God had planned for him to be a prophet.  It’s the same with Ruth.  Before she was even born, God wanted her to be a missionary for Him.  He had a purpose for her life.  Even if her parents didn’t want her, He did.  She was to be a light in the world for women who only knew darkness and despair. She was to be His messenger of hope.

You can help other women find hope and hear the incredible news about a God and a Saviour who love them and would like to change their circumstances.  Sponsor a Woman Missionary

I love to tell the story, it did so much for me; I love to tell the story, for some have never heard

 

TD11-07086 (1)

Sources:  Women in Asia; Gospel for Asia

Christian Woman’s Appeal Hearing Postponed

I received this Prisoner Release update in an email from The Voice of the Martyrs Canada.  Please read Asia’s story and pray for her and her family.  This young wife and mother was arrested since 2009 and has been in prison until now.  Imagine being separated from your family, anxiously awaiting an appeal only to have it postponed.   Pray that neither Asia nor her family will be discouraged by this major setback.

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” – Romans 8:28.  God has plans for Asia just as He had plans for Joseph who was falsely accused of rape and thrown into prison.  God was with him all the time he was there just as He is with Asia.

I encourage you to visit the prayer wall and pray for Asia and other Christians like her who are being persecuted and imprisoned for their faith and the families of those brave men and women who have died for their faith.

PAKISTAN: Asia Bibi’s Appeal Hearing Postponed

Sources: Asia News, Release International


Remember in prayer
Asia’s husband and children.

The appeal hearing for Asia Bibi, a Christian woman imprisoned for blasphemy, has been postponed “to a later date.” Asia was arrested in 2009 on charges of insulting Mohammed and later sentenced to death. Since then, she has been waiting for her appeal to be heard while being held in isolation at the women’s prison in Sheikhupura (Punjab). (For more on Asia’s case, click here.)

Initially scheduled for March 17th, Asia’s first hearing was cancelled due to the absence of one of the two presiding judges. Under Pakistani law, two judges have to be present in death penalty cases for the entire trial.

The high-profile case remains hugely controversial in Pakistan. The former Governor of Punjab, Salmaan Taseer, was killed by his bodyguard in January of 2011 after showing support for Asia. Then, two months later, Minorities Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, a Christian, was assassinated after voicing support for Asia and demanding reform of the country’s blasphemy laws. Shahbaz’s brother is now facing death threats. (For more on these threats, click here.) Late last year, Pakistan’s Federal Sharia Court demanded that blasphemy should carry a mandatory death sentence.

After this disappointing setback, pray that the Lord will continue to sustain Asia and her loved ones as they await the appeal hearing. May the judges and other authorities pursue justice, and may they also be protected from those who wish them harm as a result. Ask God to use this case for His good purposes, transforming the hearts and lives of those who do not yet know Him and encouraging believers to be courageous in their faith.

To share your prayers for Asia and her family, please visit our Persecuted Church Prayer Wall.

Service: When Women Come Marching Home

Last month, my husband and I watched this documentary about women veterans who bore the scars of war.  They suffered from post traumatic stress syndrome, sexual assault, rape and homelessness.  CPL (ret.) Sue Downes lost both of her legs and was struggling to get the help she needed to integrate back into life.  She had her legs blown off above the knees and she got no support from the government.  We watch these women as they struggled to regain their lives–normalcy.  There was nothing there for them.  There were no jobs–most of them are incapable of finding jobs.  They had psychological problems.  They were physically disabled.

It was hard to watch these women who served their country–the double amputee went through both Iraq wars–not getting the support in integrating back into civilian life.  One woman who had a psychological problem and it took three months for her to be assigned to an officer who would actually listen to her case.  One woman who was physically injured and didn’t want to be a burden to her husband, was yelled at because she had a service dog in a grocery store.  Sue Downes encountered problems when she went into a fast food place with her service dog.

It was heartbreaking  to see that one of these incredible women still felt like a failure in spite of the fact that she was doing her Masters after completing her Undergraduate Studies.  It was encouraging though, to see two of the women who suffered from psychological problems take charge of their lives by venturing out instead of being isolated in their homes.  One of them who graduated from college.

I watched a documentary on the rape and sexual assault of women in the US military on Independent Lens and the lack of support they receive.  They are treated like they are the criminals and it broke my heart to see one woman’s husband actually break down and cry because his wife was raped by her commanding officer and his friend.  The women who tried to file reports on what happened were made to feel that what happened was their fault.  One was criticized for the way she was dressed.  Another was told that she would ruined the life of the man who raped her–he was married.

Many of these rape victims find themselves forced to choose between speaking up and keeping their careers.  Very few cases that are reported are prosecuted.  Women are left with the shame of what happened to them and not being taken seriously.  Their rights are violated again when they come forward with their stories and they are reprimanded or treated like the enemy.  These women who gave their lives to serve the military have to struggle to rebuild their lives and fight for justice.

I hope that bringing to light this shameful secret of the US military and the stories of these brave women in the Oscar and Emmy nominated documentary, “The Invisible Warwill make a difference.  “We hope the film will affect lasting changes in the way the military investigates and prosecutes sexual assault crimes and supports and cares for assault survivors,” said Kirby Dick. To that end, “The Invisible War” is a call for our civilian and military leadership to listen — and to act.

To find out more about the makers of this movie, check out their website at http://servicethefilm.com/filmmakers.php

I hope that those of you who have not watched the movie, will find a way to do so and spread the word.

Source:  http://www.marketwire.com/press-release/the-invisible-war-premieres-on-independent-lens-on-monday-may-13-2013-on-pbs-1789562.htm