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Archive for July, 2009

Last week, Chris Brown apologized on camera for abusing his wife. Some people have commented that they feel it wasn’t genuine and was too late.

It is hard to judge someone’s genuineness by watching a two minute video. In the Bible (James 4:11, 12), it warns us from making judgments about other’s motives. What Chris did was wrong. The road to proving he is truly sorry is long.

If he is genuine, then he needs to do some serious work. He needs to prove he is changing. He needs to get help and prove he is even worthy to be a role model. He will show himself worthy to be a role model when he has truly transformed.

He needs to prove he didn’t say he was sorry just because he got caught. When a child gets caught for trying to take a cookie from cookie jar, they only say sorry because they got caught. They only offer to “be good” as a form of penance. Apologies for the wrong reasons, don’t count.

Yet, if Chris is really sorry, then his life should reflect that. If he isn’t, his life will show it. His true colors will come out in the days, weeks, months, and years ahead.

Check out the video for yourself and let us know what you think about his apology:

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Typically, adolescents under the age of 18 are treated as juveniles for petty crimes and misdemeanors.  For Stephen Tuopeh, a 14-year-old from Phoenix, he is facing criminal charges as an adult for his heinous crimes against an eight-year-old girl.

After luring an eight-year-old girl into a shed with bubble gum, four boys aged 14, 13, 10, and 9, brutally raped her for approximately fifteen minutes.  While the younger three boys are being charged as juveniles, Tuopeh, assumed to be the ringleader, will be tried as an adult for his offense.

The additional salt in the 8-year-old’s wounds is the fact that her father places no blame on the boys and, in fact, has “disowned” his daughter for bringing shame to the family.

“The father told the case worker and an officer in her presence that he didn’t want her back. He said ‘Take her, I don’t want her,”

This blame stems from the family’s Liberian background.  “In many parts of Africa, women often are blamed for being raped for “enticing” men or simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Girls who are raped often are shunned by their families.”

Read the rest of the story here (Fox News).

Since the girl’s father has disowned her, a non-profit called Childhelp, headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona, has stepped up to take care of and rehabilitate her in this disastrous time of need.

Bethany House of Northern Virginia cannot legally provide rehabilitation to girls under the age of 18, however we do offer referrals for other specialized programs in the Washington DC area.

We wrote a similar article pertaining to this a couple days ago: a strict family and religious values destroying a woman’s (or in this case, a young girl’s) human rights.  In rape cases, a woman is absolutely never to blame for what happens to her — especially an 8-year-old girl enticed by bubble gum.  Steps must be taken to ensure that the offenders are punished severely for their severe crime and intent.  This clearly was not a random act of passion; the four boys planned their actions and now must understand that rape is as brutal as murder.

Our prayers go out to this little girl and the life she must now lead.

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This is what happens when government bureaucracy interferes with the lives of abused women who seek asylum.

A survivor of sustained domestic abuse, Rody Alvarado Peña escaped her homeland of Guatemala in 1995 and has resided here in the United States in a peculiar asylum “limbo”. For nearly fourteen years, Rody has been in a precarious system of appeals and denials.

The center of this bureaucratic conflict is how these women are viewed by certain functions of the government: is gender-based violence grounds for asylum?  According to the Board of Immigration Appeals, the United States’ highest immigration court, it is not.

Read the article here (Washington Post).

There is no reason faceless board members should decide the fate of an abused woman like Rody.  Supporters should be sending out constant pleas to the Obama Administration so that it will officially recognize this distressing issue, assuring that other victims of abuse are not stuck in limbo or deported.  The United States should set an example for the rest of the world that gender-based violence is a severe crime and is ready to take steps to protect those seeking refuge.

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One of the most difficult parts of working for a domestic abuse shelter is knowing that there are places beyond our reach that need just as much amelioration as those do here.  The only comfort we have is praying that there are others out there willing to establish comparative safe havens for those in need.

For Zahra, a 35-year-old Afghani woman, her options were sparse: live with a violent husband or commit “khod soozi”, which translates to “self-burning [to death]”.  Clearly, self-immolation may seem like the final solution to nearly twenty-one years of heinous abuse, but with her desire to get a divorce and break free of her bloody chains, the horrific act of “khod soozi” seemed like the only way out.

With the divorce leading to a mess of custody battles, financial turmoil, and property disputes, everyone including her own flesh and blood was after her.

“They wanted to kill me three or four times. Once they gave me rat poison … I cannot go out because of the divorce and my four brothers are looking for me; they are after me to kill me.”

Even though Zahra lives in the once-Taliban-controlled western province of Herat, the laws of men still reign highest.  In this devoutly Muslim area in Afghanistan, a man divorcing his wife can be as simple as signing a single document; a woman divorcing his husband does not carry the same ease.

“A woman can appeal for a divorce on grounds that her husband is absent for a long time, he cannot adequately provide for the family, either financially or because he is physically incapable, or if he is impotent or abuses her to the point where her life may be at risk”.

After a failed attempt to burn herself to death, Zahra luckily found refuge with Suraya Pakzad, who runs a safe house for women in the Herat province.

Please follow the rest of the article here (Yahoo! News).

Zahra is truly lucky to be alive.  In February 2009, a television executive by the name of Muzzamil Hassan beheaded his wife after she filed for divorce.  As shocking as this is, the atrocious murder occurred in Orchard Park, NY, just outside of Buffalo.  This isn’t the first case of an “honor killing” by an outraged husband/father in the United States.  In Irving, TX, on New Year’s day in 2008, Amina and Sarah Said, both 18 and 17-years-old respectively, were both shot to death by their father because he found out they had boyfriends.

Domestic abuse comes in all cultures and religions.  Thankfully for our friend Zahra in Afghanistan, she finally found a safe home.

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