“When I see how women are treated, I really don’t want to become one.”—ZAHRA, 15 YEARS OLD, quoted in the magazine GEO, French edition.
THE words of the young girl, shown above, reveal a grim reality—worldwide, violence and discrimination affect girls and women throughout their lives. Consider these facts.
Gender discrimination. In Asia, most parents prefer boys to girls. A 2011 UN report estimates that in that part of the world, nearly 134 million women are missing from the population as a result of abortion, infanticide, and neglect.
Education. Worldwide, women and girls make up two thirds of those who had less than four years of schooling.
Sexual harassment. Over 2.6 billion women live in countries where marital rape is still not considered a crime.
Health. In developing countries, about every two minutes, a woman dies from pregnancy or childbirth complications as a result of the lack of basic medical care.
Property rights. Although women cultivate more than half the world’s crops, in many countries they have no legal right to own property or inherit land.
Why have women been deprived of such basic rights? Some cultures follow religious beliefs and practices that foster or even justify abuse of women and violence against them. A French daily quoted Indian lawyer Chandra Rami Chopra, who noted: “All religious laws have something in common: They support discrimination against women.”
Do you share this view? Do you think that the Bible belittles women, as many other religious books do? To some, certain Bible verses seem to give that impression. But how does the God of the Bible really view women? Though this can be an emotional issue, careful and honest analysis of what the Bible says will help us find the answer.