Burned Once, Never Again!
We find, rescue and raise their abandoned children!
“A bruised reed He will not break…” Isaiah 42:3
Unlike the United States, most marriages in India are “arranged” between the two families. The groom’s family expects the bride’s family to pay a dowry up front in money or property for the privilege of marrying their son. They are only interested in girls who are physically strong because they want her to work and contribute financially to the household. In some areas of the culture, the most important piece of the marriage agreement becomes the size of the dowry. If the bride’s family cannot pay the expected dowry up front, then an agreement is made between the groom’s family and the father of the bride for the balance of the dowry to be paid in installments after the marriage takes place. There are some instances in which the bride’s father can be making dowry payments over the course of several years.
The upward trend in India’s dowry deaths continues to climb in spite of laws in place that prohibit dowries as a condition for marriage. This law has been in place since 1961 when Parliament passed the Dowry Prohibition Act. Unfortunately, the law is widely ignored. Traditions run deep in any society, even those traditions that result in the tragic deaths of young women over money.
Sometimes a groom and his family make additional demands for more money than initially agreed upon. The husband and in-laws attempt to force the hand of the bride’s father by beating the girl. If that doesn’t work, they will throw her and any children from that marriage out of the house!
Culture trumps family….
Unfortunately, this young woman and her children cannot move back in with her family. In this culture, taking a married daughter and her children in would bring disgrace upon the family’s name. The girl’s father will send her back to her husband – sometimes with money – more frequently without it. The father is painfully aware that his daughter’s life could be in danger, but culture and centuries of tradition dictate that he must save face. These young women and their children have no escape route from this brutality. A few will go to the police; most go back to their abusive husbands. If the dowry is not fully satisfied or additional demands for money not heeded, there are many cases in which the husband and his family will decide to get rid of the wife by creating a “kitchen accident.” They pour kerosene on her and light her clothing on fire. The majority of these young women die before a neighbor or passer-by can put out the flames. For those who survive the flames, the majority die in the hospital due to infections resulting from extensive burns to the body. Whether the surviving victim dies from the burns at home or in the hospital, her husband is free to keep the dowry he has already collected. He abandons the children so that there are no encumbrances to him and his family finding another wife to collect a more substantial dowry.
Not all of these women die from their injuries. If she survives and leaves the hospital, she and her children are now homeless. No one wants to take her in. She is viewed as a liability because her injuries prevent her from working and contributing to anyone who might take pity on her. In spite of the terror and excruciating pain they have been through, both emotionally and physically, these young mothers are not concerned for themselves. But they are desperate to find care for their now abandoned and at-risk children who must live on the streets.
Friends, we at Hopegivers have stepped out in faith to care for these abandoned women and their children. We need help to feed, clothe, house and educate the children; we need help to provide the pain medications and the personal care needed for the burn victims. We need sewing machines (link to M. Joseph story about this) so the women – who can – will be able to one day become independent. We also know that God has already prepared hearts that will be moved to help us care for these desperate women and their children. He is their Provider just as He is ours. Abused, wounded and abandoned – these women and their children are some of the “bruised reeds” the Lord speaks through Isaiah of protecting! They are not only in need of care – they are in need of the Savior! These women have already experienced the fires of hell here on earth. Help us earn the right to teach them about the love of Christ and a future eternal life. We are currently caring for 125 Dowry Castaway® victims and 20 of their children. All of the children range in age between five and nine. $50 a month will help us support a Dowry Castaway® $35 a month will help us raise one of her children in a Christ-centered Hope Home. Please pray that the orphaned children of the burn victims who have died will find their way to Hopegivers and, ultimately, to our Savior. Barely hanging onto life, their children abandoned to the streets, please, help us keep these women – who have been burned once – never to burn again. Pray that God moves on the hearts of young Indian men to change their view of women and marriage so they will adopt a heart to care for their families as God intended.