Middle East (MNN) — Forbidden is a bold SAT-7 program that tackles sensitive social issues from a spiritual perspective.
These issues range from human trafficking and sexual violence to adoption. Despite controversial topics and a Christian perspective, Forbidden is widely watched all across the Middle East and North Africa.
Because the program is careful to address people’s different belief systems–both guests and viewers, at least 80% of the audience does not affirm a Christian faith.
One particular episode revealed the story of *Heba, a survivor of an attempted “honor killing.” Tunisian host Dr. Imed Dabbour opened the episode by addressing the audience:
“Honor crimes are seen by their perpetrators as a normal reaction to rid them of some scandal or to cleanse them of shame. An honor crime is a crime typically committed against a woman who has had a sexual relationship outside the conservative culture. Also there are some societies that practice what are called love crimes, only because the girl has refused a marriage arranged by her family.”
Many people throughout the region quietly accept honor crimes, but Imed challenged them to listen and decide for themselves. “Where are the men?” Imed asked. “Why are the women always the ones to pay?” One man called the studio to say, “The subject you are discussing is very sensitive…. But it is impossible for honor crimes to return the honor again.” He continued to say that he does not respect any man who participates in “honor” crimes.
Then, it was Heba’s turn to tell her story. A woman appeared on screen, her face hidden in shadows and her voice altered to conceal her identity. Heba spoke about her childhood, about a father who abused her, and her family, when confronted, would not hear her cries for help. When Heba came of age, she moved to the city and pursued a law degree. She sought the love of an older, married man, and eventually got pregnant.
When Heba’s family found out about this relationship, they called her to say, “Heba, you have brought us great shame. We are going to kill you!” She recognized that she was not safe and could not stay in her apartment. She got in a taxi where another driver cut her off. A gunman jumped out of the car, but his gun jammed and Heba was able to escape.
Heba found refuge in another country. There, she met a Christian woman God used to open her heart to Him. This woman met Heba without judgment. As Jesus said in the book of John, “Let any one of you who is without sin throw the first stone.” Relieved and safe, Heba decided to follow Jesus. She chose to keep her son and raise him to know God’s love.
After the episode ended, Imed rejoiced that God was using Heba’s trials and testimony to speak to an entire culture–millions of women and men. Heba is still hiding from her family but is no longer on the run. SAT-7 is using programming like Forbidden to reach out to women like Heba so they may know there is hope and forgiveness in the world.