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Women face double persecution for faith and gender

Every day, six women are raped, sexually harassed or forced into marriage to a Muslim under threat of death because of their Christian faith, according to Open Doors.

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The latest World Watch List report, released last week, documented 2260 such incidents involving women.

“The data seems to prove that Christian women are the most vulnerable population in the world today,” says David Curry, CEO of Open Doors in the US.

“We have learned of specific plots to lure Christian women to marry … [to draw] them away from the Christian faith.” – David Curry

“This number only covers those who had the courage to report such an incident and is estimated to be only a fraction of those actually raped and harassed in this way,” says Open Doors in a press release.

Curry said incidents of violence related to persecution increased in 2017, “especially those related to women”. He told the United Methodist Church’s Insight magazine that the rise in Islamic and Hindu extremism left women particularly vulnerable in these “religious wars”.

“We have learned of specific plots to lure Christian women to marry under false pretences for the purpose of drawing them away from the Christian faith,” he said.

“Islamic extremists also have an agenda to impose Muslim dominance and Sharia law on culture. This creates conditions that are highly restrictive for women and intolerant for Christians. Christian women, then, live at the crossroads of the two.

“They face a sort of double discrimination as a result of both their faith and their gender.”

“They attacked her, raped her, drugged her and left her unconscious, tied to a bed.” – David Curry

In a live broadcast press conference about the 2018 World Watch List, Curry said he dedicated the conference to “a 47-year-old nun who, like Mother Teresa, works with the poorest of the poor in India. And she, because of her faith and because of the rising pressure of persecution in India, faced numerous threats on her life from Hindu extremists, who said to her, essentially, ‘stop working with the poor, stop loving people in Jesus’ name, or we will kill you or hurt you’. And indeed those threats came true. Two Hindu extremists came to her medical clinic. They attacked her, raped her, drugged her and left her unconscious, tied to a bed.”

Curry went on: “When the police came to investigate, they began to systematically destroy evidence and had the shoddiest of investigative processes. That’s what justice is like in India today, which is Number 11 and holds a particular place of shame on the World Watch List this year. Because it purports to be part of the international community. But that’s what justice is like for Christians in India.

“This year her attackers were acquitted.”

“A deal was cut with the tribal leader, under Sharia law, to sell this 14-year-old girl, Habiba, for $160.” – David Curry

According to Open Doors, India is one of the fastest movers up the World Watch List in 2018, experiencing a “dramatic rise” in persecution in 2017.

Curry also recounted a story uncovered by Open Doors researchers in Nigeria.

“There was a 14-year-old girl who was walking to school this year – the picture of innocence. And as she walked to school, she was kidnapped. Taken from her family by a Muslim extremist living in the northern tribal regions. She was forced into marriage. A deal was cut with the tribal leader, under Sharia law, to sell this 14-year-old girl, Habiba, for $160.

“Do you believe this is unique?” asked Curry. “It is not.

“We cannot let this stand. We must address this injustice.”

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