Books & Articles
Mrs Vinita Shaw, wife of Pastor Timothy Shaw, Diocese of Delhi, Church of North India is a journalist and has many published articles to her credit. She has written two books, “I heard a voice” (also translated in Dutch and Finnish languages) and “Unveiled” (also translated into Dutch). Unveiled is available at the following hyperlinks:
Mrs Vinita Shaw served with Trans World Radio for 20 years, the last 5 years of which she was the CEO of Trans World Radio-India.
Currently, she is CEO of Disha Foundation (www.dishafoundationindia.in) and speaks on All India Radio’s FM Rainbow (also known as Nation’s station and accessible to an estimated 80 million people) through two weekly broadcasts that promote gender equality and spreads awareness against trafficking and gender crimes.
She also serves as Consultant to several international donor bodies and is a Board member of Evangelical fellowship of India and International council member of World Evangelical Alliance.
A Bible teacher, she is often invited to speak at clergy, youth and women’s conferences, both locally and globally.
She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Gender crimes and the Indian Christian women – Vinita Shaw
“None of us need to wait a moment more to make this world a better place.” – Anne Frank
When Nirbhaya was brutally gang raped on December 16, 2012, the rage of the people spilled across the streets of Delhi. Her death shook the conscience of the country even as a horrified world looked at India, wondering why on earth was India referred to as ‘Mother India’, with such a tragedy marring the shining image of the country.
This incident, however, we know, was just the tip of the iceberg having come into the media spotlight because this heinous crimes was committed in the capital of India, New Delhi. Was it not the first Prime minister of Independent India, Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru who had said, “The character of the nation is known by the ways its women are treated.”?
Being Christmas season, there were many Christians who were outraged but their anger was for a totally different reason all together. They were not able to reach the church services, carnivals and Christmas concerts on time due to the, traffic snarls and shut down of metro services. “It dampened the Christmas mood” were the angry remarks I heard from many!”
“And what about the plight of this young girl fighting for her life at the local city hospital?” I asked and the response was, “Yes, it is very sad but what can we do?”
This apathy of the Church in India is historic and extends to women issues, in particular. Christians in India are found to exhibit a strong disconnect with the context in which they live. Turning a blind eye is easier than connecting and they’d rather maintain a stoic silence than rake up issues that could lead to arguments or reveal their ignorance or confusion about such painful matters.
Are we as busy and caught up without lives and jobs like the Priest and the Levite in the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke chapter 10, that we fail to empathize and reach out to help ?
How can a Christian turn a blind eye to the dismal condition of women in our country when the newspaper headlines stare at us in our faces every morning over our steaming cup of coffee, is a question I personally grapple with? How can we not be disturbed?
As Christians and Indian citizens, we must practice listening to the Word while listening to the World (Dr John Stott). We should engage with the context of the spiraling gender crimes and remember the famous words of Dr John Scott, “Proximity and reverence for scriptures is not the same as obedience for it.”
Be it Delhi being named as the rape capital and trafficking hub of India, the sex ratio becoming more skewed; female fetuses found strew in the fields and wells, domestic violence, dowry deaths, rise of holiday brides and surrogate mothers and so on and so forth.
India is making great strides into the new millennium and positioning itself as a leader amongst developing nations, yet the women continue to live as second class citizens in a society that is steeped in patriarchy for centuries.
This patriarchy and preference for the male child have had far reaching effects on the position of women in their homes and workplaces. The effects can be seen in their financial status, their health, education and the way they are treated. After being married off and achieving motherhood at a young age, women are loaded with domestic and financial responsibilities. Statistics show glaring differences – 78 percent of men are literate as against 54 percent women. Inheritance and divorce laws bend unfavorably towards women who as it is are financially unsecure.
The condition of women remains unchanged through the length and breadth of the country. Each state in this country of more than a billion people has deplorable tales of women suffering.
In Rajasthan, women are left at home while men migrate to other places to work. Women in this state earn 30 percent lower than men. This state has a strong affinity for the male child which shows up in its dismal sex ratio – 922 females for 1000 males. This number can be attributed to large cases of female infanticide and feticide.
Kerala is the state that breaks norms as far as the sex ratio goes – the number of women per thousand is more than men. It is shocking to note that in this scenic state, women feel no less safe. Women complain of sexual harassment in the work place, in buses and even in parks.
Punjab and Haryana face a shortage of women, all a result of a preference for the male child; this has seen a rise in women kidnappings from other states and neighboring countries. These women are bought for a large sum of money; in their new homes, their condition is akin to prisoners – they are held captive for life and do not have any rights. These states also have the shameful distinction of having villages with no women.
This gender discrimination has not spared the Church either. Further, the Church in India is so caught up in its manifold duties including evangelism, that in doing so has failed to emulate Christ’s integrated model of ministry which included His intervention to come to the rescue of a woman when He said , “Leave her alone. Why are you bothering her?” (Mark 14:6)
Christ showed compassion to the woman caught in adultery and forgave her and asked her to “sin no more” (John 8:11). He comforted Mary Magdalene with soothing words – “Woman. Why are you crying? Whom are you seeking? (John 20:16).
In these verses, Christ has revealed His love, care and value for woman. Jesus rose above the culture of His times to reach out to a hurting humanity – to man and woman both, made in the Image of God. He rose above His culture which was as patriarchal as ours which is embodied in the prayer of a Jewish man even today, “Thank you God for not making me a non Jew, a dog and a woman.”
However, the Church in India has a long way to go before it can be truly called the representative of Christ. There is no denying that Church and para church organizations have been working in the area of women upliftment but obviously that is not enough.
First and foremost, as Christian women, we have to shake ourselves out of believing that we are second class citizens. We need to remember the words of St Paul – “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:27 and 28)
Secondly, we need to begin praying for these gender crimes to be arrested. It is only God who has turn hearts of stone into hearts of flesh.
Finally, we need to rally together. We need to network and stand together in the powerful Name of Jesus to transform our nation
I pray that the Holy Spirit would disturb us and we would arise from our slumber and into action for I firmly believe that:
“History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.” – Martin Luther King Jr. in Stride towards Freedom.
What are your views about your gender? What do you think God expects from you as an Indian Christian woman, born in a time when India has been rated as the ‘fourth worst country for a woman to be born in’?