WOMEN FIND “NEW IDENTITY” IN CHRIST
In Persian societies, a woman’s identity is often defined only in relation to their father or husband. Women can face devastating social challenges and a lack of rights. Now, the SAT-7 PARS program New Identity is helping Persian-speaking women discover and explore their true identities in Christ as beloved ones of God.
“It is so painful to read the data about the social conditions in Iran and about the pressures brought to bear on women. They are so limited in society. Their rights and positions are trampled, and their identity is marred,” says Rozita Hovsepian, who presents the live program New Identity.
“In today’s Persian societies, there are so many instances where a woman’s value and identity has been lost or is undermined,” she continues. Since the launch of New Identity in early 2021, the situation for women has become especially dire in Afghanistan, where the Taliban’s denial of women’s rights to education and work has essentially confined many to the home.
In New Identity, Rozita and co-host Mansoureh Eliasi show women that they have their own worth and address from a biblical and psychological perspective the emotional, physical, and psychological challenges they face. “The journey we are taking our viewers on is from recognising their value and worth in Christ to having an impact on their society,” says Rozita.
In one recent episode, the presenters addressed violence against women in marriage, a prevalent issue in Iran, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan. Many women are subjected to physical and verbal attacks within the family. Some feel trapped by the threat of abandonment and resulting destitution, while others are forced into marriage at a young age.
Rozita and Eliasi reinforced how wrong all these situations are. They also shared that if women are abused by their husbands, they should not feel it is wrong to seek separation.
In response, one viewer commented: “I always felt that I should not have agreed to divorce my husband, and I felt I had gone against God’s command. But thanks to your program, I am free of this guilt because I was subjected to so much abuse in my marriage by my husband.”
New Identity also raises awareness of other contextual issues women face. For example, the show recently broke a taboo to raise awareness of “temporary marriages”, which are essentially a form of legalised prostitution that some young girls and women are forced into by increasing poverty in Iran.
“As a result of these social challenges and lack of rights, more women are suffering from depression, and the suicide rates among women between the ages of 25 to 34 is increasing,” Rozita explains.
Through New Identity, SAT-7 PARS’ other women’s programs, and the care and counsel of the channel’s viewer support teams, women are finding peace and freedom in their true identities.
When Iranian believer Noushafarin* first contacted SAT-7 PARS, she felt ground down by cultural pressure that told her she should never take time for herself or be alone with God. The team helped her realise that God values her and wants to spend time with her.
Since then, she has been in weekly contact, exploring the book of Proverbs with the team. “After about three months, we noticed Noushafarin’s voice had become less sad. And, as she spoke about her life, it became clear that she had gained wisdom in dealing with those around her,” says the team member who spoke with her.