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Every barrier will be broken through genuine relationship with Jesus

By interserve
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    In a country in South Asia, approximately 15,000 women and children are trafficked each year with 1,000 being rescued. Exploitation happens frequently and many rituals and practices are hidden from sight. For example, there is a minimum age for marriage, but it is still common practice for children to be married off as young as twelve. A ritual where menstruating women are expected to live in a small hut away from their families for the duration is still widely practiced despite being difficult for women. Child labour is still common and many children still work in the entertainment sector, brick factories and dance bars. The sex industry has gone underground but still exists with girls that have been tricked into working. Migrant workers have left their families in search of better incomes and find themselves locked into physical labour contracts, or working as housemaids in homes where they are often abused.

    Cultural practices are often inflexible barriers to our work and prove hard to bring change.

    We have been working to prevent these types of exploitation for the past 13 years. Prevention is a hard thing to quantify, but we have so many stories where lives have been enriched and transformed due to us stepping in and helping to change the situation. We focus on three main areas: education, income generation and social transformation.

    SITA* is 14, and according to her culture she is ready for marriage. The cultural pressures for her to receive proposals at this age brought fear to her parents as they desperately wanted her to achieve her dream for education. After becoming believers a few years ago her parents have a new perspective when making decisions. They chose to leave the village and help Sita and her three siblings continue their education, thus protecting her and giving her fullness of life.

    PREMA* was 17 when we met, she had completed some school but wanted to study further. At that age, she was at risk of being trafficked and her friends had been married off at a young age. We brought her to the city for education, and her exam marks are great. Four years later, she is no longer at risk, she has more options for the future and can stand on her own two feet with confidence.

    SURESH* didn’t have an education growing up and has no job prospects. Now he is raising four children, he needs a bigger income. Our NGO donated beehives from which he sells honey, a cow so he can sell milk, and he is now also farming vegetables, which he sells at market. These kind of barriers to fullness of life can be so easily broken if you have a little help.

    As we look for social transformation and a worldview change in the communities we work with, we are so inspired to hear of women making a difference and challenging their cultural rituals. In one district, several communities of women are choosing to bypass the ritual where menstruating women are expected to live in a small hut away from their families, finding new freedom for their daughters.

    Fullness of life looks different in every culture and country. Through genuine relationship with Jesus, every barrier will be broken and long-lasting transformation will come.

    This story was written by two Interserve Partners working to prevent exploitation.

    *Names have been changed for the protection of identity

    What part could you play in preventing exploitation? Please get in touch if this article has stirred something inside you.

    Thank you for commiting to praying

    Your prayers make a difference! Thank you for praying to see transformation in the lives and communities of Asia & the Arab World.

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