The first Friday of March is Women’s World Day of Prayer. The Theme for 2012 ‘Malaysia – Let Justice Prevail.’ The United Methodist Women Delegation to the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) led the prayer and Theresa Symons, Director of Good Shepherd Programs in Mayalsia was invited to lead a reflection on ‘Justice Work in Malaysia’.
‘Malaysia, truly Asia… I am home to multicultural groups, a vision of joy, plurality and well being.
I have changed much in the last two decades. People tell me that I should be happy and proud over the progress made, graduating from a third world country to a developing nation. But my heart aches and I witness the many migrant workers from neighbouring countries who have come to worked for me. I am now temporay home to 4 million migrants, documented and undocumented. Most of these mighrans come from impoverished backgrounds, hoping to find jobs that will take them and their families out of the cycle of poverty.
My heart reaches out to the women migrants who have come from rural areas which do not have clean water, sanitation, electricity and basic healthcare. I see how hard they struggle to adjust to urban living, working in homes as domestic workers, in factories as producation workers, in offices as cleaners, in plantations as labourers, in restaurants as waitresses, in shops as sales people. I hear horrible stories of physical and sexual abuse, unpaid wages, harsh working condition, debt servitude and unjust treatment. These women migrant do not have a voice, poverty has silenced their right to be heard. My heart aches.
But there is a ray of hope…all is not lost,
I see people having conversations and teaching each other how to understand and apply international human rights instruments. I see young lawyers becoming activisit and educating people on their constitutional rights and how to cast their electoral votes. I see groups forming coalition to stand on the side of the poor and oppressed and calling decision makers to accountability. I see people braving prison sentences in order that that vocies of the helpless are heard. I see people of differenct races, religions, culture and economic status walk the streets, demanding for fair general elections. I hear people affirming that human rights are women’s rights. I see people helping each other.
Although my heart still aches, I believe all is not lost…there is indeed a ray of hope for justice to prevail!. May Malaysia be a land where truth, justice and compassion prevail for all who come to my shores.”
This reflection was in the context of a call to worship, a litany of voices seeking justice in Malaysia, and the Scripture from Micah Ch 6:8 ‘What does the Lord require of you? We sang a hymn ‘For everyone born – a place at the table – echoing the refrain ‘And God will delight when we are creators of justice and joy, compassion and peace.’