Linda, Jonna, and I sat to chat while their little kids played. Linda shared how a Christian woman was arrested and thrown in jail for the night because she told her husband he could not take another wife. It’s not unusual for Sudanese men to have several wives. Why anyone would want more than one wife is beyond me. Don’t those men know women living together end up on the same menstrual cycle! Anyways, the woman was arrested because she violated his rights.
Women in South Sudan have little, if any, say over their martial lives, particularly when it comes to children. Women aren’t to say no to their husbands, they aren’t to use birth control, and therefore they must bare as many children as they can. And there is no conversation about it. Husbands and wives don’t speak about such things as sex, contraception, and family planning. Women here have little, if any, voice or choice over their bodies.
It’s interesting because I had a conversation with two American High School students just after my time on Jonna’s lawn. Peter and Chandler, two teens traveling with us in South Sudan, wanted to know our thoughts on abortion. Their question reminded me of something I had studied earlier but forgotten. Betty Friedan, the woman who birthed the feminist movement, was pro abortion not because she believed in abortions but because she believed in women having a choice over their own bodies. I hadn’t given that much thought but here I was faced with two issues both dealing with the right of choice over one’s body. I was glad another pastor was present to address their question because at that moment I was trying to figure out how we feel about the broader issue of women having a choice over their bodies. Should they? Have a voice? Choice about family planning? I’m not talking about abortion. I’m not interested in tackling that here, so stay focused on the broader issue. Was Betty Friedan right? Should these women in South Sudan have a voice/choice about their sex life, childbearing, and family planning? I’ve never had to consider the issue on this broader scope because women in America have a choice/voice. So much so that now the issue has narrowed to the pro-choice, pro-life issue.
Let me ask you have you ever considered how blessed you are that you have a choice over your body? (No, I’m not talking about the right to abort a child. I’m talking about several other wives, your sex life, amount of children etc.) I needed reminding of the broader issue because what I think and do can impact those women who have no choice & voice.