5 MAJOR TRENDS INFLUENCING GLOBAL CHRISTIAN PERSECUTION by Lindy Lowry – Open Doors
Insight into the daily battle facing 1 in 9 believers worldwide today
In the reporting period for the 2019 World Watch List, five major Christian persecution trends surfaced in the top 50 countries on the list. By no means are they the only trends affecting believers globally. However, research and reports from our on-the-ground partners and field reps in more than 60 countries indicate these trends are the major forces influencing the persecution of Christians around the world. Below, we have identified and highlighted them to provide insight into the battle the global Church is facing today.
THE SHOCKING REALITY OF PERSECUTION AGAINST WOMEN
Research for the 2019 World Watch List reporting period reveals devastating details about the persecution experienced by Christian women. In many places, women experience a “double persecution”—one for being a Christian and one for being a woman. This kind of persecution is difficult to assess or quantify because it is complex, violent and hidden. In many cultures where women are specifically targeted, it is difficult, if not impossible, to report accurate numbers.
Far from being gender-blind, persecution exploits all the available vulnerabilities women have in their cultural or social context. This means they are oppressed through factors like: a lack of access to education and healthcare, forced divorce, travel bans, trafficking, widowhood, incarceration in a psychiatric unit, forced abortions or contraception, being denied access to work and lack of choice to marry a person of similar faith. The pressures faced by Christian women are twice as numerous as those experienced by Christian men.
Even in the most restricted circumstances, gender-specific persecution is a key means of destroying the minority Christian community. For instance, the sexual assault of women in Nigeria by Boko Haram, and in Iraq by Islamic State, is typically acknowledged as rape, yet not perceived as a tool of religious persecution. While those assaults have not been confined to Christian populations, a study of both the demographics of victims and of their testimonies of the words used by their attackers leaves no doubt that at least one primary objective of and the Islamic State is to eradicate the Christian population by every means.
Watch the 2019 World Watch List video:
ISLAMIC OPPRESSION CONTINUES TO IMPACT MILLIONS OF CHRISTIANS
In seven out of the top 10 World Watch List countries, the primary cause of persecution is Islamic oppression. This means, for millions of Christians—particularly those who grew up Muslim or were born into Muslim families—openly following Jesus can have painful consequences. They can be treated as second-class citizens, discriminated against for jobs or even violently attacked.