On the night of December 16, a 23-year-old physiotherapy student in Delhi, India was walking home from watching Life of Pi with a male friend. They paid 36 cents to board one of the private buses that serves as public transportation in India's capital.
The crew and passengers, six in all, were all men, residents of a local slum who had been drinking and circling the city in search of entertainment. They spent the next hour beating the friend and brutally gang-raping the woman, finishing off with a metal rod before dumping them half-naked and unconscious onto the street. Doctors later removed the woman's badly damaged intestines in a futile attempt to save her life.
The incident has sparked outrage both in India and abroad and prompted calls for a reassessment of India's male-dominated culture, which often treats women as second-class citizens and trivializes their abuse, sexual and otherwise. There are a lot of difficult questions to be asked.
Luckily for India, a Carrollton-based missionary group, Gospel for Asia, has the answer: Jesus.
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"While India needs enforcement of stricter laws to protect women, ultimate liberation and hope come only through the love of Christ," K. P. Yohannan, the organization's president, said in a press release issued today. "In teaching, we are showing women that Jesus cares about their needs, loves them and answers their prayers."
Yohannan goes on to cite some unsettling statistics about the plight of women in India: more than 10,000 murdered each year over dowries; nearly half of all marriages involve girls under 18; rape, though grossly underreported, is rampant; literacy among women is low. The list goes on.
GFA, though its primary focus is on mission work, devotes a share of its resources toward improving the material lives of Indian women. Its microfinance system there reaches 59,000, according to its press release. It gives direct payments to outcast widows. It provides free meals, education, and healthcare services.
All of which is admirable, and probably more effective than simply having Christ on her side. We're no religious scholars, but we're pretty sure Jesus hardly ever rides the bus.