Christian women gang raped in Nigeria

A Nigerian Christian prays in church. Nigeria is ranked 7th on the Open Doors World Watch List of countries where Christians face the most persecution.Open Doors

Women in parts of Nigeria are being raped as part of a "strategy to totally destroy Christian communities", Open Doors has warned.

On 29 July, four young women were kidnapped by armed militants from their homes in the village of Angwan Aku, southern Kaduna state, and forcibly raped by multiple men.

One of the victims, 18, described the attack: "We were fast asleep when we heard a loud bang on our door.

"They forced their way in, then ordered my husband to lie down on the ground while my less than one-year-old child was screaming at the top of his voice.

"They took me away while I struggled and begged for my sick child. They forced me away, hitting me with the AK47 rifle [butt] on my left eye.

"They joined me with the other girls they have already taken from various locations in the village. It was still raining when they took us away from our village on five motorbikes."

Another of the women, aged 25, described being given the choice of rape or kidnap for ransom. 

"They asked us to choose to either be raped by gang members or to have our loved ones abducted for ransom," she said.

"We told them our parents are too poor and can't afford ransom, so they took us away on their motorbike to Kutura and raped us continuously all night, doing to us whatever they liked."

After their ordeal, the women were dumped in the bush near their village. 

An Open Doors partner in the region, who cannot be named for security reasons, said that the rape of women has become a way to attack "all that [Christians] hold in high regard".

"If they can't find the men to kill, they rape the women. That way they create a lasting effect on Christian families," the source explained.

Open Doors is providing trauma counselling and medical support to the women.

Nigeria is number 7 on the Open Doors World Watch List of the top 50 countries where Christians suffer the worst persecution for their faith.

Figures from the charity show that last year nearly half (49%) of rapes carried out around the world for faith-related reasons occurred in Africa, with the majority of those being in Nigeria. 

In the same period, at least 4,650 Christians in Nigeria were killed for faith related reasons and at least 2,510 were abducted.

A recent report by the Observatory for Religious Freedom in Africa (ORFA) found that Christians in Nigeria are 10 times more likely to be killed in jihadist attacks than Muslims.