TAKING A STAND AGAINST DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
As the world marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (25 November), SAT-7 is a catalyst for change in the Middle East and North Africa. With support from the Christian broadcaster, and the local Church, courageous women break free from cycles of violence – and perpetrators find ways to change.
“I knew that Jesus had truly touched me and was helping me.”
– Feriyal, who escaped domestic violence in Iran
Since Feriyal* escaped from her husband, she has been in touch with SAT-7, which is a lifeline for victims of domestic abuse in the Middle East. Feriyal shared her story with the team from Farsi-language channel SAT-7 PARS, who support her and many others with counselling and prayer through the discreet mobile phone app WhatsApp.
Feriyal told the channel how during a trip to Turkey – throughout which her husband beat and tormented her ceaselessly – she saw a church from her window. “One day I asked Jesus Christ to help me and bring me peace,” she says. A few days after Feriyal returned home, a woman she had never met before visited her. “I somehow knew that she was a Christian. She told that she had come to see me because Jesus had told her to come and help me,” Feriyal remembers. The woman, a friend of her sister’s, was a church worker who helped Feriyal escape.
Along with the support and counselling offered to women like Feriyal who have fled their abusers, several SAT-7 programs help women who continue to face violence. “Women are not stuck at a dead end,” says SAT-7 ARABIC producer Sherif Wahba. “We want to show them there is a way out. Someone can help.”
On SAT-7 ARABIC, women find hope and support through You Are Beautiful, a program for those who face abuse or social rejection. “Many women who experience abuse from their fathers or husbands receive hardly any protection or support from society. Consequently, they lose all sense of their own value,” explains Wahba.
You Are Beautiful tears down the lies these women are told and shows them their true, God-given worth. The show introduces women to counsellors, offers practical advice on staying safe, and tells the stories of those who have broken the cycle of violence. In one episode, a woman shared that her father had sexually abused her and locked her in a bathroom for a week without food or water. Bravely, she fled, becoming homeless until a governmental organisation sheltered her. Over time, the woman found work to support herself and began to heal.
But while survivor support is vital, it is not enough. To end domestic violence, societies must also confront aggressors and the root causes of their behaviour. Programs such as Inner Home on SAT-7 ARABIC contribute to prevention by showing viewers healthy ways to deal with anger issues, while others across SAT-7’s channels promote women’s rights and offer relationship counselling.
There is hope for a better future in spiritual victories like those described in this article. Together, we are making a difference. Please pray for protection and hope for women who continue to face domestic violence in the Middle East and North Africa.
Will you stand for victims of violence like the church worker who helped Feriyal? Your prayers and donations will help SAT-7 be the crucial support that could enable a woman to escape violence. Please consider making a donation to keep this beacon of hope shining.
*Name changed for security purposes.