Note from Team: The following post from a friend living in a predominantly Kurdish area describes one of the more difficult realities that many Kurdish women face. We love the Kurds, and believe their culture reflects many beautiful aspects of God’s common grace, positive values such as hospitality, generosity, loyalty, etc. However, as with all societies and cultures, including the West, Kurdish culture also reflects the sinfulness of fallen humanity that must be redeemed by the good news of Jesus Christ.

Domestic violence is still a huge issue within Kurdish society. There’s really no telling what goes on behind those gates – much like anywhere in the world! Women may be semi-smiling at the gate, but crying within the house. There are women walking around in public, with their husbands, children and mothers-in-law, with black eyes. There are women who can be heard screaming from within the gates surrounding their homes. Interestingly, when this is heard, a hush comes over everything happening outside; however, only a direct, close neighbor dare intervene. Everyone else will walk by saying, “Oh, that’s bad,” or “Oh, he shouldn’t do that” but they are powerless to approach the situation.

A survey among Kurdish women asked the question: “When is it okay for your husband to beat you?” Not IS IT okay, but WHEN is it okay. Reasons men give for beating their wives (or sisters, or sisters-in-law, or even mothers) vary: “She burned the rice.” “Lunch was late.” “She looked that man in the eyes.” “My cousin saw her talking to a strange man in the market yesterday (i.e., not a relative, not someone the family knew).” “She has a man’s phone number on her mobile.” Some married women are continually abused by their brothers-in-law and/or their father-in law after they move into the husband’s family’s home. In many cases the husband just turns a blind eye. Regrettably, this is deemed normal; unfortunate – not rational – but nonetheless, normal! Honor killings, though becoming less common, still occur, especially in the more rural areas. A high ranking official stated, “Honor killings are still killings! But they will be someone else’s battle – I have other things to deal with.”

Walking by women on the street is an opportunity to share a smile, lend a sense of hope to the abject hopelessness most Kurdish women endure day in and day out. Culture dictates they walk with their heads down, rarely gazing up (even to cross the street!), and with a scowl that could freeze the summer wind of 125ºF! But a smile, a “How are you?”, a playful gesture towards their child, whatever, opens these women’s eyes and, with time, their hearts, towards something new – something different. The foreign, believing women who live and work among the Kurds need wisdom, encouragement, language skills and the heart to engage these women in order to “declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Pe 2:9) and to be “a light shining in a dark place” (2 Pe 1:19).


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