DALLAS – Dr. K. P. Yohannan, missionary-statesman and advocate for the poor and destitute in South Asia, is grateful and encouraged by newly elected Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent comments and commitment to addressing incidents of mistreatment of women and girls in his country.

Several recent incidents in India involving the rape and murder of young girls – including the latest rape and hanging June 12 -- have brought the issue to international attention. Modi, in his first address to Parliament, said, “Governments will have to work strictly against this, else our own souls will not forgive us,” according to “The Guardian” newspaper. Modi also told lawmakers to “stop politicizing rape” and that “respect for women, their security…should be the priority for all 1.2 billion people.”

"I am immensely grateful and happy to see how the prime minister has responded to these recent events and called the nation and government officials to do what they can to bring about change," said Yohannan. “We mourn deeply for the lives of these innocent girls, but we are encouraged by the stand the government is taking.”

The violence, while occurring in India, reflects a much broader and deeper issue regarding the mistreatment of women that is seen globally, particularly as a result of patriarchal views and dispositions that are often deeply entrenched in cultural attitudes. The quick government response to the violence in India demonstrates a global shift in how the world is responding to these types of incidents, and how commitment to addressing the underlying causes is growing.

Many of the victims of the recent violence in India are Dalits — members of lower castes. They are often mistreated by members of upper castes, which reflects a global disposition on behalf of the powerful to abuse those who are vulnerable. In many countries, this mistreatment extends to numerous other areas, including how widows are treated, limited educational and career training opportunities women and girls are offered, and entrapment that can easily lead to slave labor and human trafficking.

“Veil of Tears” (www.veiloftearsmovie.com), the recently released documentary produced and directed by award-winning filmmakers Kenny and Kyle Saylors, captures the individual stories of women caught in the cycle of mistreatment and abuse in South Asia. More importantly, the film shows how many of these women are finding hope, restoration and healing as a result of changing attitudes, practical training opportunities and the commitment by others to address the root causes of this mistreatment.

“Veil of Tears” is available as a free movie night kit for churches and small groups at (www.veiloftearsmovie.com/smallgroup). It also is available online at Gospel for Asia (www.gfa.org/veiloftears/store) and at retail stores across the country.

"As Christians, issues like the mistreatment of women around the globe should lead us to prayer, cause us to get involved and be part of the answer," said Yohannan. "I'm reminded of the scene in Scripture where Jesus looks out onto the masses and was moved with compassion. As we learn more about what is happening, may we also be moved with the compassion to act."