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11th March 2024

“I am grateful for your help and encouragement which really lifts my spirits. I believe the Lord is showing me, through you, that I am not alone and even in the most difficult circumstances there is help and guidance for me. I hope for healing for Iran in the name of the Lord Jesus.” – Pariyah, a SAT-7 viewer in Iran

SAT-7 is supporting and encouraging Pariyah from Iran – and the many millions like her across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) – as they face oppression. Through our programming, projects, and partnerships, SAT-7 shares Christian teaching, provides a platform to discuss challenging topics, and walks alongside women in their everyday challenges. Content is shared 24/7 via satellite TV and digital media, and our Viewer Support Teams are on hand to respond to questions, comments, and prayer requests.

While there are regional differences and some signs of progress in some countries, the challenges facing women and girls in the MENA region continue to be numerous, severe, and interrelated. In many places, they are compounded by political upheaval and conflict.

Afghanistan stands out as the worst example, where women suffer on every level. Since the Taliban’s takeover in 2021, the country has, according to the United Nations (UN),[1] become the most oppressive nation in the world for women and girls, who are forbidden from pursuing education beyond the sixth grade and banned from working, studying, or traveling without a male companion.[2] “Since the Taliban takeover, girls in my homeland have been deprived of the most basic freedoms such as education,” shares Mariam,* a SAT-7 PARS viewer from Afghanistan.

Protests in Iran

Image 2 Size 300x300In neighboring Iran, nationwide protests broke out in September 2022 following the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, who was detained by the country’s morality police for not wearing the hijab properly. The “Woman. Life. Freedom.” movement swept across the country, with Iranian men joining the women-led protests. But in the harsh crackdown that ensued, hundreds of women and girls were killed by the Iranian security forces and a series of raids were launched on girls’ schools. The protests have not led to any positive changes for women and girls in the country. On the contrary, protesters, especially women who refuse to wear the hijab, are being harshly suppressed.

Insiders is a long-running and popular program on SAT-7’s Persian channel, SAT-7 PARS, that gives a voice to women from Iran and Afghanistan. As well as providing a platform for the discussion of topics that are widely treated as taboo in their culture, the program also focuses on in-depth topics that address human rights.

Insiders Banner Set Resized

Presenters Hengameh (left) and Sally (right) on the set of the SAT‑7 PARS live program Insiders.

Violence in Türkiye

Image 3 Size 300x300Women in Türkiye also face significant challenges, most notably gender-based violence. Over the last decade, over 3,100 women have been killed – almost one per day [3] – and four out of 10 women have been subjected to physical violence by their husbands or partners.[4] In July 2021, Türkiye withdrew from the Istanbul Convention, a European Council treaty that commits its signatories to protecting women against violence and discrimination. Türkiye’s withdrawal has been seen by the international community as a backward step in protecting women.

SAT-7 is reaching out to Turkish women through, among other programs, Homemade, which provides expert support for viewers on topics including domestic violence, depression, and family matters.  The show also introduces viewers to successful Turkish women from various professions to raise their aspirations through positive role models. Homemade presenter Şemsa Deniz Bakır shows viewers her faith in action, sharing Bible readings and prayers at the start of each episode. “I share my love for the Lord, my mistakes, and my joys,” she said. “The viewers see me as one of their sisters and daughters, and a sincere relationship has formed between them and me.”

Homemade Semsa Cooking Resized

Presenter Şemsa Deniz on the set of the SAT-7 TÜRK live show Homemade.

Challenging Cultural Norms

SAT-7 programs such as Today Not Tomorrow, filmed among communities in Egyptare challenging accepted cultural and religious practices that perpetuate inequalities, as well as raising the aspirations of girls and women. The program features the stories of Middle Eastern women who are challenging the status quo. Lamia Sayed is one of them; she tells how she broke with the normal practice in her community and allowed her daughter to continue her studies. She explains how an encounter with God on Mount Sinai made her realize that the creator of such beauty could not be one who oppresses women.

Today Not Tomorrow is part of a major five-year Gender Equality and Freedom of Religion or Belief (FORB) project that aims to help women and girls in the Arab world enjoy the freedom and dignity they deserve as valued individuals made in the image of God. Launched in 2022, this project seeks to promote a culture of constructive discussion and critical thinking across the Arab World.

Maggie And Morocco Resized

Gender Equality and Freedom of Religion or Belief (FORB) spokesperson (right) interviewing in Morocco for the SAT-7 program Today Not Tomorrow.

Through our programs on satellite TV and social media, SAT-7 is equipping women in the MENA to realize and exercise the freedom to make their own choices in life and faith. And as they are empowered to fulfill their God-given potential and bring transformation to their families and communities, other women are inspired to do likewise.

 

 


Sources

[1] United Nations Afghanistan
[2] ibid
[3] AsiaNews
[4] Hurriyet Daily News

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