There is so much about life here that we don’t understand. So much of the lives of these people seems alien to me. And so, at times I get the feeling that I am bouncing along the surface of reality here, not penetrating past the polite smiles into the deeper issues and problems. Yet, sometimes I catch glimpses. Last night, I caught more than a glimpse.
Raised voices, a woman crying out in defense from the man assailing her. A flashing fist, belongings strewn all over the street. It only took a glance to understand what was going on.
The neighbors seemed hesitant to interfere in the dispute, but one was willing to help break up the fight. As the man got into his car and left, however, he was spewing threats of harm to come for the woman.
“Are you alright? Are you injured?” I asked her.
I couldn’t understand much of her response, except that he had been choking her. I told her that she needed to get the police, or her family involved. Men like that don’t just let live. He will come back, just like he had been saying as he left. All she did was cry.
It was a scene similar to something you might find in America, and yet there were small differences.
There were no sirens, no police called, no action taken, and the neighbors dissipated into the night without a word.
I went and talked to a good local friend, but all he could do was confirm my suspicions:
- The police won’t consider this worth acting on, especially not with only the word of a white foreigner and some photos taken on a cell phone.
- This kind of violence is not uncommon, and the responsibility is on the woman to make it stop by either going to the justice system or separating from her abusive partner.
- Most people have become indifferent to domestic violence because the women just go back to their abusers in the end.
In America, I spent 6 months helping women escape and stay free from their abusive partners. The situation there was alarmingly similar to the one here. Did you know that the average woman in America who is being abused will leave her abuser 7 times before she is finally able to be free?
There are many reasons why it is difficult to leave an abusive partner, but suffice it to say that I believe that average is much higher here in the islands, where men are not held accountable and feel entitled to do as they please. Moreover, the justice system in the States is far more functional and less corrupt than the system in place here.
What can be done? I can’t imagine the feelings of powerlessness that thousands and thousands of islander women must feel on a daily basis, trapped within a system of belief which is responsible for the shattered state of families on this small island, unaware of hope.
These people are in desperate need of the God who calls men to be sacrificial husbands and fathers. I believe that God loves family, and wants to heal the brokenness of the families here in the islands, which have been desolated by polygamy, violence, adultery, etc.
Please pray for the families of Clove Islands, that they would know the one true God.