Marking International Women’s Day
* Support for women who have experienced domestic violence
* Literacy classes for disadvantaged women
* Trauma healing for victims of rape and brutality
“As a widow I have no value in society’s eyes,” says Mrs Sulekha in India. “I was thinking about ending my life but then the Bible Society came along. Reading the Bible has given me a whole new perspective. I have become a woman of hope.”
Mrs Sulekha is one of many hundreds of thousands of women across the world whose lives are being changed by the Bible. Through a program of the Bible Society of India, which specifically reaches out to widows who face rejection and destitution, Mrs Sulekha has discovered her value in God’s eyes and a purpose for her life.
‘Giver of hope’
The program offers women practical help, such as vocational training and health checks, and also helps them become part of a caring community of people who offer each other help and love. Mrs Sulekha now helps other women in difficult circumstances – a ‘giver of hope’, as the Bible Society describes women like her.
In Latin America, where 6 out of 10 women experience some form of domestic violence, Bible Societies and their partners are involved in offering practical and spiritual help to abused women.
Domestic violence is a disease
“Domestic violence is a disease that is destroying women, families and our society,” comments Fanny Cossío, who leads the Bolivian Bible Society. “As well as causing physical harm it leaves women and girls feeling depressed and powerless to change their lives. But God’s Word is giving them courage and hope.”
Last year, through the Read to live program, the Bolivian Bible Society and its partners helped more than 6,000 women, providing them with shelter, food, clothing and Scriptures. The program is also being carried out in Panama, Chile, Ecuador and Peru. The Bible Societies in all five countries (as well as several others in Latin America) are actively campaigning against domestic violence, running media campaigns and organising training workshops.
With high illiteracy levels in Latin America, literacy classes are a key part of the program, giving the women an important life skill and boosting their self confidence. This year, the program will also start to offer trauma healing to the women to help them recover psychologically and emotionally from the violence and abuse they have suffered.
Trauma healing is, in fact, a growing area of Bible Society ministry globally. Hundreds of thousands of women in around 15 countries have received Scripture-based trauma counselling over the past 18 months, helping them to put the pieces of their lives back together.
Consolatta, 22, lives in the war-torn eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Rape has become a weapon of war and many women, including Consolatta, have been brutally gang-raped. Consolatta’s rape has left her wheelchair bound. She is being cared for in Goma by Sister Alvera’s Flame of Love centre for war children and traumatised women, and is receiving trauma healing through the Bible Society there. The counselling, she says, has helped her find peace.
“With the help of prayer and reading the Bible I feel more balanced,” she says. “I have been able to forgive those who raped me. When my heart is broken I recite the Lord’s prayer and this brings me peace.”
The Bible is also helping hundreds of thousands of women in Africa who are affected by HIV to find dignity, hope and strength. Using the story of the Good Samaritan as a guide and inspiration, women are forming HIV support groups to care for and support people who have been abandoned by their families because they have the virus. Click here to read more about this work.
For more information about Bible Society trauma healing work, led by American Bible Society, click here.