Redemption Through Forgiveness

The Railway Man (2013) Poster

I just saw this movie and am still undone by its beauty. Bring your hankies! It is difficult to see and experience, and is beautifully acted.

It is a true story about an Englishman and a Japanese man who meet again after World War 2. Their original meeting was as captor and captive.

Although I don’t want to minimize the war  theme of this movie, for me it was really about what we hold onto, what we let go of, and the purifying qualities of forgiveness.

While I sat sobbing at the end, “watching the credits”…..I was so soft and asking God for help where I am still hanging on to issues and hurts that need to be let go of, sort of laughing at myself about the stuff I think is so important that really only harms me; like the concept of drinking poison in order to hurt others.

And as I got into my car and turned on the radio, there was life.

A report about Russia and the Ukraine and new deaths.

A report about Arrests over hanged Indian girls…At least three men, including a police officer arrested after two teenage girls are gang raped and hanged from a tree in northern India.

A report from Africa about group of Christian youths in the Central African Republic who sacked a mosque and barricaded streets with burning tyres in the capital, Bangui…

And I thought about the danger of letting resentments fester and control our souls, because that is what war is. We are told it is geopolitical, necessary for clarity over resource allocation, for religious purification or for a bunch of other arguments that may sound reasonable, but  underneath it all, we are simply babies in the sandbox, deciding who gets to play with the one shovel.

And then this on BBC……+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

29 May 2014 Last updated at 15:17 ET

By Gerry Holt BBC News

 Human rights activists protest against the killing of pregnant woman Farzana Parveen in the city of Lahore, Pakistan

The stoning to death of a pregnant Pakistani woman by her own family has thrust the issue of so-called honour killings into the spotlight.

What is an ‘honour killing’?

It is the killing of a member of a family who is perceived to have brought dishonour upon relatives.

Five women were allegedly killed in June 2012 after footage showed them singing at a wedding in northern Pakistan

Pressure group Human Rights Watch says the most common reasons are that the victim:

  • refused to enter into an arranged marriage
  • was the victim of a sexual assault or rape
  • had sexual relations outside marriage, even if only alleged

But killings can be carried out for more trivial reasons, like dressing in a way deemed inappropriate or displaying behaviour seen as disobedient.

“The perpetrator seeks to excuse it as some sort of protection of their family’s honour, reputation or values,” says Mustafa Qadri, Pakistan researcher for Amnesty International.

Last year, three women were killed in Pakistan after being captured on video “smiling and laughing in the rain outside their family home”.

Men may also be targeted, by members of the family of a woman with whom they are perceived to have had an inappropriate relationship.

Last year in India, a young couple were murdered in Haryan state because they planned to marry despite being from the same caste. Nidhi Barak, 20, was beaten to death and Dharmender Barak, 23, dismembered alive.

But Rothna Begum, researcher on the Middle East and North Africa for Human Rights Watch, says women bear the brunt of such punishments because they are more widely perceived as “keepers” of family or community honour.

How do families justify the murders?

The idea that a murder can be honourable is believed to come from tribal customs where an allegation against a woman can be enough to defile a family’s reputation – the idea that “a life without honour is not worth living”.

Perpetrators have sometimes tried to justify their actions on religious grounds – but none of the world’s main religions condone honour-related crimes.

In some countries, these tribal customs have been codified into law, which may constitute legal grounds for killing a family member.

In Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas for example, “rivaj” – or tribal custom – is codified without being defined. This could be interpreted to provide a legal basis for a killing, says Mr Qadri.

The killings are also more prevalent in disenfranchised or remote communities.

A collective failure by the authorities to prosecute such crimes, and the tacit endorsement by local clerics, contribute to them being more accepted, says Mr Qadri.

But above all else, they are a feature of deeply patriarchal societies where there is a belief that a woman’s actions reflect on the men around her, he adds.

How widespread are such murders?

The United Nations Population Fund estimates that 5,000 women globally are murdered in this way each year. Last year, 869 women were said to have been killed in Pakistan.

Supporters of Tehrik-e-Minhaj ul Quran, an Islamic Organisation protest against 'honour killings' of women in Lahore on November 21, 2008. Human rights lawyer Zia Awan said that more than 62,000 cases of women abused in Pakistan since the year 2000 and 159 women died in honour killings in the year to September 30
Killings have previously sparked protests in places like Pakistan

Women’s advocacy groups suspect the global figure is likely to be closer to 20,000 victims per year – but Mr Qadri thinks the figure is probably hundreds of thousands.

Although prevalent in the Middle East and Asia, it is a widespread global phenomenon, he says.

The UN describes it as a “growing problem”, and says estimates are difficult because killings are rarely reported to police, and families often “cover up” the crime, disguising it as an accident or suicide.

In the UK, figures suggest about 12 such killings take place each year.

One recent high profile case was that of 17-year-old Shafilea Ahmed, whose parents were convicted of suffocating her with a plastic bag. Prosecutors said her parents believed she had brought dishonour on the family by wearing Western-style clothing and mixing with white friends.

How does a family decide to kill?

“In the name of preserving so-called family honour, women and girls are shot, stoned, burned, buried alive, strangled, smothered and knifed to death,” said a statement from the UN on International Women’s Day.

Sometimes killings happen spontaneously, but in other cases they may be formal and organised. A meeting may be held by male family members and senior women who decide if a woman should be killed, and work out the method.

In the latest widely-reported case, Farzana Parveen, who was three months pregnant, was pelted with bricks and bludgeoned by relatives furious because she married against their wishes.


Is this really the best we can do today?

be bold. be brave. be hope.

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