During Georgetown’s Christianity and Freedom conference held in Rome on Dec. 13-14, Rebecca Shah, a research fellow at the Berkley Center, suggested in a pilot study that Indian Dalit women who have converted to Christianity enjoy a higher standard of living.
In Indian society, which is organized under a caste system, Dalit women are considered outcasts for life and are employed in the most menial jobs. After studying a community of 300 Muslim, Hindu, and Christian Dalit women in a slum community for over three years, Shah found that the Christian converts invested their microfinance loans into home ownership, which allows them access to affordable credit from commercial institutions.
Shah also said Christian women suffering from domestic abuse were slightly more likely to seek help. “24 percent of Hindu women sought help, and 22 percent of Muslim women, but 32 percent of Christian women sought help,” she said.
The study notes that this is a result of the converts’ involvements in weekly prayer meetings and meetings with pastors. The women will notice physical signs of violence on each other, and the pastors repeatedly visit the women’s homes and eventually stop the husbands from continuing their acts of domestic violence. Perhaps this 8 percent difference is enough to advocate for the widespread conversion of all women to Christianity.
There is less insight as to why the Hindu or Muslim faiths cannot also undermine the difficulties of poverty, though her study does show that some aspects of Christianity can benefit these women.
“Because God is with them, they can invest in the future. It’s not something to ignore, not something to be terrified of,” she said. “we’re in the process of doing more rigorous research, which will confirm these findings.”
Perhaps if Vox also converts to Christianity, annoying commenters will be guided toward other sites to wreak havoc.
Photo: Berkley Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs