Middle East (MNN) — SAT-7, a Christian satellite TV ministry to the Middle East and North Africa, is tackling girls’ issues. Through its Farsi channel, SAT-7 PARS, the program A Girl’s World is aimed at helping girls and educating viewers.
“We can see it every day. The kids are suffering on social media, not only in sense of equality…but child abuse is one of the most important issues that we have right now in Iran. [That’s] not exactly only for girls, but it happens mostly to them,” Parastoo Poortaheri, the host and producer of A Girl’s World explains.
Challenges Girls Face
In the region where the show broadcasts, it is common for parents to abuse and hit their children. However, this is not the only form of abuse kids face. There are child laborers and children facing sexual abuse, too. These kids have few to no advocates. They are voiceless.
One societal norm which allows the abuse to continue is the honor and shame system. For example, in some cases, if a girl has been sexually abused and the family knows, fear of shame and a broken reputation keeps them from acting. Other times, kids are quiet or simply don’t know the abuse they’re experiencing is wrong.
“We have a program… specifically for young girls to tell them how to say no or how they have to actually protect themselves…that other people shouldn’t touch them…or how to say no actually to the things that they don’t want to do,” Poortaheri says.
“That is one of the most main problems that they don’t know how to say no even if they want to [say no], they just remain quiet…because [it is] something that is never taught really openly in Iran.”
Still, these are not topics SAT-7 PARS can immediately address. The program has had to slowly build into these topics. During the program, there is a segment dedicated to a psychologist who shares recommendations regarding the topics in the show. Furthermore, Poortaheri says there is nothing else like A Girl’s World currently airing on Iranian TV.
Then, the segment dedicated to the psychologists addresses these topics with the parents more openly. Most of the viewers watching A Girl’s World are dealing with the very topics being discussed. For this reason, it’s as though SAT-7 PARS is talking directly to the girls and their families.
In Iran, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan girls are not encouraged to go to school, since the girl is expected to eventually get married. In these cultures, boys and men tend to have more opportunities than girls and women. Women and girls are left at home, comparing themselves to women on TV and social media. Many don’t have good role models. Poortaheri says plastic surgery is a major problem in Iran, where women and girls feel they just don’t measure up and that they are not valued. They are discontent with who they are.
“We [are] kind of trying to be their voice, to empower them, trying to help them, educating them in a really Biblical way and fun way. So, every issue that we talk [about]…we also talk about in the perspective of the Bible, what the Bible says about this topic,” Poortaheri says.
“We are different and God loves us the way we are. This is the most important message that we try to give them at the end of every program. That they are unique and God loves them so much.”
Many young viewers have contacted SAT-7 PARS about A Girl’s World. Kids share feedback and topics they hope to see discussed in the future on the programming. These young viewers have grown to trust SAT-7 PARS. They feel like they can share their problems and ask for guidance.
“Many parents…say the kids have been changed massively through this program. If we could just help one kid through our program to understand, to educate, to change their life, it’s something that is amazing for us.”
In the new season, A Girl’s World will focus on women of the Bible. Poortaheri says the new season will highlight powerful and brave women in the Bible with the intention to share more about God’s love. Through this new season, Poortaheri hopes to empower the young women watching.
And while the show targets topics relating to girls specifically, boys and parents watch the show too. This means not only are girls given a voice, empowered, and educated but boys are learning of the challenges half of their society faces. They are learning to understand and discover how they can make a difference.
Furthermore, SAT-7 PARS is building relationships with the audience of A Girl’s World through people like Poortaheri. Poortaheri says she will check in on audience members, send a message to those they have not heard from in a while, opening a two-way street for communication.
Pray for SAT-7’s work through SAT-7 PARS. Ask God to heal these young girls and women, and for them to find their value in Him. Pray for SAT-7’s programming to impact not only the girls but the families, too. Ask God to open their hearts and grow the seeds SAT-7 PARS is planting.
Another way to help is by financially partnering with SAT-7 PARS through SAT-7. The ministry needs resources to produce the quality content it airs. Will you help?
Want to learn more about A Girl’s World? Then, click here!
Header photo courtesy of SAT-7 USA.