Saturday, April 23, 2011

Where women have few rights

This afternoon I went off happily to visit some Maaban ladies with my fellow missionary, Karissa, who is very good with the Maaban language. Our lighthearted afternoon quickly became sad. We arrived at our friend Ula's compound to find her laying on a cot outside her home. She did not greet us with her usual enthusiasm and we could tell something was wrong.

She told us that her husband decided to take a second wife. When she told him she didn't agree to it he began to beat her. She has a broken hand and a painful, still swollen eye and temple from where he struck her with a handmade weapon called a bwam about two weeks ago.

He has already built a house on their property for the new wife. Ula said the woman came briefly and left. She said if she comes and remains that she, Ula, will leave their husband. Ula is one of the strongest and most respected women I know in Maaban County. Realizing how badly she is being treated--and knowing we nor she can do anything about it--is heartbreaking, frustrating and despairing. Women have very few rights in this culture. The men have a right to beat them but are not allowed to kill them without consequences. They are free as far as culture is concerned to practice polygamy.

Karissa and I prayed with her, tried to express our care and support for her and left in tears. As we walked home deep sobs wracked my body. There is such a helplessness in us when we see our people suffering, often as a result of someone elses greed, pride, anger or lust. I do not understand this culture yet.

Please pray for Ula as she decides what to do. In other marriages in this tribe I've heard that the woman must bear with the choice of the husband and even though the women in the village don't approve of polygamy, they won't speak up in defence of the first wife. They do not believe it is their right or the right of the first wife to resist the humiliating, frustrating and non-Biblical practice of polygamy. They stay silent (at least officially) and let the men do what they do--they are the ones with the rights and the power. For Ula to "leave" him is a very big step and a loud statement in this culture. I don't know what to think, but my heart aches.


At 1:24 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Sheila! How heart-breaking! I can't begin to imagine the impact for the kingdom that you are having there! Press on sister! Sending hugs your way, janna brown


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