Serving Persecuted Christians Worldwide - Why are Christian women more vulnerable during Ramadan? - Open Doors UK & Ireland
03 April 2024

Why are Christian women more vulnerable during Ramadan?

Shame, abandonment and financial hardship. These are some of the dangers that face women and girls in Central Asia who make the brave decision to leave Islam to follow Jesus. And during Ramadan, the risk can be greater – which is when the three stories below happened.

Central Asia

An underground church in a remote area of Central Asia meet in a believer's garden

Nargena* was gathered at an underground house church in Central Asia when her son, Mehmad*, barged in and verbally abused everyone. He was furious that she was at a Christian meeting, whilst he continued to follow the Islamic customs that he’d been raised with – since Nargena had converted from Islam to follow Jesus. 

He was particularly angry because it was Ramadan – a month of fasting for Muslim people, which concludes next week with Eid al-Fitr. It’s a time when converts like Nargena can be particularly vulnerable, even from their own family.

"You're shaming me, your mother" Nargena

“You're shaming me, your mother,” Nargena said to her son. “If you are a real Muslim, you should know that the Quran says to respect your parents!” Mehmad stopped shouting, but he remained angry. He grabbed his mother’s hand and, leading her out of the house, he kicked the woman who was sat next to her. 

In many countries and regions, particularly those where Islamic culture is dominant, women are treated as second-class citizens. Nargena would be expected to obey her male relatives, even her son. When Mehmad started persecuting his mother for her faith, he took advantage of this cultural norm – knowing that his mother would have little defence.

Taunted by own family

In many incidents of persecution against women and girls, the shame comes alongside other tactics, like abandonment by their own families. Given the dependency our sisters have on male relatives as breadwinners, this can in turn bring the additional challenge of financial hardship. 

Every £20
could give four women biblical literature to help nurture their faith.

It’s a situation familiar for Zarina*, who lives elsewhere in Central Asia. She has been expelled from her home by her Muslim husband after she decided to follow Jesus, who said that he did not need such ‘disgrace’ in his old age. Her daughter and son-in-law have also cut her off. She is currently living with a woman from her church. As well as severely impacting her livelihood, Zarina – as a woman in this culture – is deeply affected by being tarnished and shamed by the label of ‘disgrace’.

Baria* is much younger but her experience carries similar undertones. After she became a Christian, she was expelled from home by her Muslim parents and relatives, who have verbally abused her and taunted her that she will never get married or give birth to ‘normal’ children. The experience has left her devastated. 

All three of these incidents have happened during Ramadan. Believers can stand out for not engaging with rituals, exposing them to attack, whilst it is also a time when more extreme Muslims are particularly likely to show hostility towards Christians. Women stand out if they choose not to wear Islamic dress, such as the hijab – one woman in the wider region told an Open Doors partner, “We, as women, are forced to wear a veil during Ramadan, because we converted to Christianity in secret.” She shared that she feels less vulnerable during the rest of the year.

Honoured by God

Open Doors’ ongoing See.Change campaign seeks to come alongside women like Nargena, Zarina and Baria to support them in their challenges and show them how, contrary their awful experiences, they are seen and honoured by God. The campaign is only possible because of the prayers and gifts of supporters like you – thank you!

And as Ramadan ends next week, please remember your sisters in your prayers. It makes a real difference. 

*Names changed for security reasons

Please pray
  • For the provision of all needs for Nargena, Zarina and Baria, and for strength to persevere in their faith
  • That their families will come to know Jesus
  • That Christian women and girls in Central Asia will be given wisdom, courage and protection as they navigate the challenges and opportunities of Ramadan.
Please give
  • Every £30 could help a persecuted woman start a small business, giving her long-term financial security
  • Every £45 could help train a woman to know her value in Christ and strengthen other women in her community.

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