Shining a light in the darkness of persecution
When Rayah first converted to Christianity, persecution immediately followed. A group of radical Muslims in her community taunted and threatened her. They tried to pressure her to denounce Christ. She refused.
One day, these hateful tormentors raped her, filmed the horrible act, and published it in her hometown for all to see. Her own family was now against her, shamed by her conversion and rape. Rayah knew that in order to live, she had to flee her home.
This is what persecution looks like for mothers, daughters, widows, and girls who convert to Christianity in the Middle East and North Africa.
The unique persecution of Christian women
Many Christian believers living in the Middle East and North Africa face ridicule and violence for accepting Jesus as their Savior. This is doubly the case for a specific subset of believers—women. Adding religious persecution on top of cultural discrimination puts them in an especially perilous situation.
- 37% of Arab women have reported experiencing violence. The actual number is assumed to be much higher.
- 14% of girls under 18 are forced into marriage in this region of the world.
- 92% of women and girls between the ages of 15 and 49 in Egypt have experienced female genital mutilation.
- Rape is one of the most common forms of persecution against women in the Arab world. In many places, rapists can avoid prosecution by marrying their victim.
To be a Christian woman in the Middle East is challenging. In many Middle Eastern countries women are repressed in multiple ways including appearance, education, and jobs. To be a Christian woman from a Muslim background in the Middle East adds persecution on top of repression. Many times, the persecution a Christian woman endures is often undetected, hidden, and physically and psychologically damaging at the same time.
Sexual violence against Christian women
According to multiple reports by human rights organizations, the number one pressure point used on Christian women is sexual violence.
If a Muslim woman converts to Christianity and is found out, her home and family are not a refuge she can trust. Family members will turn against her and torture her sexually to force her to renounce Christ. Husbands will rape their wives and imprison them in their own home.
If a woman is raped outside the home for being a Christian, the burden of shame is on her, the victim, and this shaming further motivates family members to beat, torture, and imprison her in any way until she converts back to Islam.
It’s often at this point that persecuted women must make a run for their lives.
Find out how Help The Persecuted Safe Houses Rescue, Restore, and Rebuild the lives of persecuted women
Forced marriage as persecution of female Christian converts
The second highest pressure point used on women who convert to Christianity in the Middle East is forced marriage to a Muslim man.
If a Christian woman marries a Muslim man, it is expected that the husband’s religion is the religion of the home, and that the woman will convert to his religion. A woman will be threatened, tortured, beaten, deprived of food and water, imprisoned, and her family threatened or attacked in order to force her to marry a Muslim and denounce Christ.
Once forced into marriage, a woman still will be beaten and raped by her husband in what can become sexual slavery.
In fact, there are extremist groups that kidnap Christian women and girls to force them into marriage or imprison them in a life of sexual slavery.
The stories of persecuted Christian mothers and daughters in the Middle East and North Africa are complex and often go untold. The abuses these women suffer are easily hidden or covered up. And their impact leaves a searing wound on their souls that only our Father in heaven can heal.
How are we helping persecuted women in the Middle East?
Help The Persecuted is closely involved in ministering to persecuted Christian women in the Middle East and North Africa.
We tailor support to rescue and assist the women we serve to include medical assistance, counseling, food supplies and safe housing. Spiritual retreats are held which minister to women who have endured trauma and need a place to heal and be encouraged in their faith. Also, our Field Ministry Team members often provide discipleship materials including Bibles and other literature for encouragement and hope.
How you can help persecuted Christian mothers
Through our Prayer Network, we are mobilizing thousands of believers who pray specifically for the women we minister to.
Your gift today will help Rescue, Restore, and Rebuild the lives of persecuted Christian women in the Middle East and North Africa.