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12 June 2017

Leuven Consultation: persecuted women shamed into silence

Leuven Consultation: persecuted women shamed into silence

Alliance members are calling on the Church to hear the voice of Christian women who have been shamed into silence.

Religious liberty charities Open Doors UK, Release International and Christian Solidarity Worldwide hosted the Leuven Consultation of academics and activists from 23 nations at the beginning of June.

Kate Ward from Release International and a host of the Christian Women under Pressure for their Faith conference said: "These women are being targeted for two reasons – because they are Christians and because they are women."

"Women's bodies are being used as weapons of war against their own communities. Along with sexual attack comes shame, and shame forces women into silence.

"We call on the Church to listen to these persecuted Christian women in a new way – to learn to listen radically – to break the cycle of shame and silence."

Christians in more than 50 countries experience high, very high, or extreme persecution.

The conference heard that 215 million Christians are affected by persecution and that women suffer disproportionately.

Kate Ward said: "In Nigeria, Christian girls are being abducted and impregnated by Boko Haram.

"In Egypt, extremists are paying men to abduct women, force them into marriage and convert them to Islam.

"And in Pakistan, women are being kidnapped, raped and forced to change their religion.

"Women make up more than half the church. They are doubly vulnerable to discrimination and violence. Yet, all too often, their voices are not heard. They are silent."

Dr Susan Kerr, from CSW said: "Women can face many different types of discrimination due to their faith.

"This can vary from exclusion and segregation in different spheres of public life, to so-called honour killings – murder – because of who they are and what they believe.

"It can include dowry deaths or acid killings, just because they are women of a particular religion.

"We see the weaponisation of the woman's body as a means of sending a message to a religious community."

Helene Fisher from Open Doors International said: "The vulnerability of Christian women is being deliberately exploited to maximise the damage to the entire Church.

'But as Christians we have an extra path, which is to say, "I am here listening to you as your sister in Christ, who loves you and cares for you and wants to know how to come alongside you."



Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Release International and Open Doors UK are members of the Religious Liberty Commission, along with the Evangelical Alliance. The Commission aims to speak with one voice about the persecution of Christians around the world and to encourage prayer and advocacy on their behalf.

Image: CC Yaoqi LAI