On the occasion of International Women’s Day, Open Doors International published the WWR 2021 Gender Specific Religious Persecution Report.
The report focuses on Open Doors’ World Watch List of the top 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian and aims to reveal how often Christian men and women experience different pressure points.
According to the report, in addition to the crisis surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, conflict (political unrest, extremist insurgencies, military invasion, and more) has also exacerbated gender-specific vulnerabilities.
The findings suggest that the highest pressure points for males are consistent with physical violence, economic harassment at work, and imprisonment by the state. Physical assaults consistently target church leaders, who are predominantly male. Instead, women and girls continue to experience sexual violence and forced marriage as a means of pressuring Christian converts to return to their family or majority community religion.
The WWL2021 Compilation of Pressure Points and GSRP profiles includes the analysis for Colombia, Mexico, Cuba, Nicaragua, Honduras, and El Salvador.
In the case of these Latin American countries, the contexts that expose Christian men and women to greater vulnerabilities include indigenous communities, areas co-opted by guerrillas, gangs or other criminal groups, and authoritarian regimes.
To address this issue, Open Doors present a set of recommendations to donor governments and institutions, to the CEDAW Committee, and to the global church. Some of them are:
- Ensure a gender perspective is integrated into programs designed for protecting and promoting FoRB, and that sensitivity for issues of FoRB is integrated into gender-related anti-discrimination programs.
- Include religion as a factor of vulnerability in any assessment made in planning and programming.
- Recognizes the existence of a double vulnerability faced by women and girls from religious minorities.
- Openly acknowledge the extent and severity of violence against Christian women, especially in communities under pressure for their faith.
Image: Esther Htusan-AP