The persecution of Christian women and girls around the world is hidden, complex and violent. They are vulnerable for both their gender and their faith.
Leading up to International Women’s Day on 8 March, we’ll be sharing some stories of those who’ve been persecuted simply because they are Christian women. The aim of Open Doors’ See. Change. campaign is that every woman who is persecuted for both her faith and gender is seen, heard and empowered to reach her God-given potential.
Hannatu’s story: Kidnapped by Boko Haram
Hannatu (name changed) and her family lived in north-east Nigeria, a terrorist hotspot, for many years. In 2017 they were kidnapped by the militant Islamist group Boko Haram.
“It happened on a Sunday after we had finished the church service,” remembers Hannatu. “We were just at home when we got news that Boko Haram was killing people. They attacked and burned down our church. It all happened in broad daylight.”
The next day, Hannatu and her husband and children got into a minibus with some other villagers and tried to leave, not realising that they were heading straight towards their enemies.
“Bullets just started flying from everywhere. All our tyres were shot, and we stopped.” Tragically, two of Hannatu’s children were lost – including her newborn. The rest of them were bundled into a car and taken to the forest by Boko Haram.
“They said that if we won’t denounce Christ, they would not take care of us. They said we are disgusting. They didn’t even give us food – even when our children went to beg them, they would send them away.” The family had to eat grass.
After six months, Hannatu’s husband managed to escape – but she and the children were there for two years. She was sustained by remembering John 10:29: “My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.”
Eventually, the Nigerian army rescued them. Hannatu was extremely ill and malnourished, and they have all been deeply traumatised. Throughout, though, her faith remained strong: “I can say that my stay with Boko Haram strengthened my love for God and made me really close to Him.”
Many Christian women in sub-Saharan Africa, like Hannatu, are targeted by Islamic militant groups. Even when she returned, some people in her community mocked her because of what she had suffered. Many Christian women and girls experience this stigma and trauma, even when their persecution is supposedly ‘over’.
You can help women like Hannatu See. Change. by contacting your MP, and asking them to ensure that faith is recognised as a vulnerability in gender-based violence.
You can help persecuted Christian women around the world See. Change.
Your support helps persecuted Christians continue to courageously follow Jesus.
Together, we can reach those where persecution hits hardest.