Christian girls and women are “doubly vulnerable”, says Open Doors. “Preventing women from freely raising their children as Christians is an effective means of controlling the Christian population”.
In a special report published days before the International Women’s Day (8 March), Open Doors describef how the persecution of Christians affects women.
In the report “Same faith, different persecution”, the organisation underlines that “the crisis surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbates existing vulnerabilities”. In “domestic situations, pandemic lockdowns led to increased physical attacks on Christians isolated in their homes with hostile family members who disapprove of their faith”.
The document (which can be downloaded here) explains differences in the persecution suffered by men and women. “For Christian men, the risk of abduction, death and forced conscription into military ranks or militias escalates sharply. Women are more likely to be trafficked, seduced or forced to flee the country, in addition to facing an increased chance of abduction and psychological violence”.
“Tools of shame, coercion and control” are used to attack Christian communities, including forced marriage of girls and sexual violence against women. These are used by perpetrators “because of the strong association of sexual purity with the honor of a family or community”, Open Doors says.
The organisation supporting Christians worldwide concludes that “faith communities can discover additional solidarity by prioritizing their faith narratives of safe, faith-based marriages, as well as equitable and mutually supporting families”.
In fact, research shows that “a substantial, multi-faceted community response could be truly instrumental in significantly reducing or even eliminating gender-based persecution as a tactic”.
In a previous document published last year about the “targeted abuse of Christian women worldwide”, Open Doors described the nature of persecution against women, which is “hidden, complex and violent”.
Attacking women is widely used to repress Christian communities in dozens of countries because: “it blends in, it is low risk for perpetrators, and it is highly effective”. While persecution against men is more easily monitored, several factors lead to a “lack of awareness that is directly related to inaction and ineffective solutions”.
According to these findings, “attacking women creates a ripple-effect of shame, intimidating the whole family and spreading fear in the community”.
The attacks against Christian women and girls are hidden (“in society, within homes, and within the data”). Their persecution is complex, “because it abuses the existing vulnerabilities of Christian women”. Thirdly, the violence suffered by women is different: “sexual violence is often a crime of ‘opportunity’ that takes advantage of the overall marginalisation of the [Christian] community”.
The 2020 report (which can be downloaded here) analyses specific kinds of violence happening the most hostile regions of the world: Asia, Middle East & North Africa, and Africa.
Learn more about the Open Doors World Watch List 2021 of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.