Fleeing violence because no place is safe
Though the 2022 World Watch List saw a slight decrease in violent attacks against Christians in Somalia, persecution remains extreme in the third most dangerous country for Christians. No place is safe (even the home) for a Christian, and pressure in every area of life is intense and unending.
Young female converts to Christianity remain one of the most vulnerable populations in Somalia. It is common for a Somali woman suspected of Christianity to be raped and humiliated in public, kept under strict house arrest, abducted, forcibly married to a radical Islamic sheikh or even killed. If she’s already married, she will likely be divorced and have her children taken away.
Somalia is a patriarchal society with high social control. Somali men and boys merely suspected of conversion to Christianity face extreme violations of their fundamental rights. They are at risk of being verbally abused, physically assaulted, losing their businesses, imprisoned, heavily threatened, tortured, abducted or being killed in abhorrent ways.
Similarly, Eritrea remains sixth on the World Watch List, making it still one of the hardest places in the world to follow Jesus.
Female converts from Islam can face abduction, house arrest, forced marriage, divorce or separation from their children. Whereas in many countries women are exempt from military service, in Eritrea, women are also subjected to obligatory military training and national service. Female conscripts are vulnerable to various forms of gender-based violence, including from prisoner guards and commanders. Many choose to flee the country in order to evade such a fate.
Since most underground church leadership positions are held by men, any arrests among them cause a leadership vacuum, as well as financial distress to families where they are the breadwinner. The impact extends to schools, where the children of pastors can be taunted and branded a “Pente,” a label which is considered shameful and can put the victim in danger.
Violence continued to rise in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burkina Faso, Mozambique and Cameroon, where Christians are targeted by violent Islamic militants. In sub-Saharan Africa, Christians are constantly in danger, and the problem is only growing.
They desperately need our prayers.
top photo: IMB.org