Pakistan (MNN) — Christians in the Middle East face extreme danger, but another group is even more vulnerable.
Women of minority religions in Pakistan are often kidnapped and brutally forced into marriage and religious conversion. This was exactly what happened to a 20-year-old Christian woman named Sonia Bibi.
“There was a man that she had some sort of relationship with,” says Bruce Allen with Forgotten Missionaries International. “She had known this guy. He proposed to her many, many times, and she’d always turned him down. Eventually, he just lit her on fire out of frustration.”
This is just one of the many atrocities women–especially those adhering to minority religions–experience on a consistent basis. And even though such treatment of women is illegal, more times than not, there is no justice.
“Right now there are about a thousand cases in Pakistan where you have women from religious minorities, like Christians, who are victim to kidnappings, forced marriages,” Allen says. “When we say something like forced marriages, what comes along with that is a forced conversion to Islam.
“It’s very difficult for these women to get justice, because often–in many of these cases–these are adolescent teenagers. And even if they’ve been kidnapped and their Christian family files a complaint with the police, number one: because they’re Christian, the police may not act on it very quickly. But even if they do act on it, under the cultural norms in Pakistan the girls remain under the custody of their kidnappers until the court hearing, so they’re suffering all kinds of trauma and violence.”
FMI is working to change that. The problem is: it’s not easy changing social norms, so progress is slow. But even though it’s difficult impacting public thought, FMI is still making a difference where it can.
“The last time that I was in Pakistan, earlier this year, one of the things I really noticed was…women outnumbered men in the church, usually by a ratio of 6:1,” Allen says. “In strategizing with our national leadership team, we came up with ideas for making sure that women are not overlooked in the church, that women are not overlooked in their families in order to disciple them and equip them to be disciplers of other women.”
FMI is assisting women and equipping them spiritually, but they can’t do it alone. Can you lend your support? For $50 a month, you can support one of these women and provide them with Bibles and other resources. Contact FMI to get started, or click here to learn more about its Pakistan ministry.