According to Open Doors, a non-profit organization dedicated to encouraging and empowering persecuted Christians in more than 60 countries around the world, North Korea is the country where being a Christian is most costly.
The incidents and intensity of persecution are increasing in many Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) countries—most notably in Afghanistan (an uncomfortably close second to North Korea), Egypt, Syria and Turkey.
Open Doors defines Christian persecution as any hostility experienced as a result of identification with Christ. Christians throughout the world continue to risk imprisonment, loss of their homes and possessions (including custody of their children), rape, torture, and even death, as a result of their faith.
For many Christian women, the struggle is two-fold. They often endure verbal, physical and sexual abuse in the home just by virtue of their gender—before the issue of faith even comes into the picture.
Research for the World Watch List found that, every day, six women are raped, sexually harassed or forced into marriage to a non-Christian under threat of death because of their Christian faith. More than 2,000 such incidences against women were documented because victims had the courage to speak up. Certainly, these cases represent only a fraction of the actual rapes and forced marriages.
Religious extremism remains the major driver of persecution, responsible for initiating oppression and conflict in 35 out of the 50 countries on The Watch List. New research indicates that approximately 215 million Christians around the world experience high, very high or extreme persecution for following Jesus. Nearly one of every 12 Christians in the world lives in a culture or in an area where Christianity is illegal, forbidden or punished
Open Doors USA CEO David Curry notes that the overall increase in incidents of Christian persecution also indicate an increase in violence, especially against women. He says, “It’s imperative we continue to advocate and call leaders to prioritize issues of religious freedom.”
This is where Women for Middle East HOPE and SAT-7 come in. It is our continuing resolve to keep in the public eye the grim facts about persecution of Christians and women and Christian women in the MENA, and the startling statistics that support those facts. Yes, the numbers are ugly. We need your support to help change them!