Three days later, Maria’s parents saw their daughter in court. And Maria shared four words that would change all of their lives.
She looked at the judge and said: “I have converted to Islam.”
Then, Maria left with the same three men that kidnapped her. One of the men had chosen Maria to be his second wife.
Maria comes from a Christian family, and there was nothing her parents could do. These Muslim men abducted their daughter and forced her to convert to Islam—and into marriage.
In certain regions, Muslim extremists have created an environment where rapists and kidnappers target women and girls. Often, like Maria, they’re then forced into marriages. The pandemic has made Christian women in these countries even more vulnerable to this unimaginable form of persecution.
A dangerous trend
Hana*, an Open Doors partner who works in a majority Muslim country in Asia, offered help to the family. “At the moment, there’s not much we can do,” Hana says. “We can raise prayer. There are no legal options because Maria has declared under oath that she has converted to Islam and is happy to be married to this Muslim man. The parents could appeal the judge’s decision, but they won’t.”
A pause. “They have been silenced.”
Hana explains that the Christian family received such harsh threats that they had to move to another region. Cases like these aren’t new to Hana and other Open Doors partners.
“Nowadays, there are at least two cases of disappearing Christian women and girls each day,” Hana shares.