One in twelve Christians live in an area where they are targets of high-levels of persecution – including violent beatings, rape, and incarceration – due to their faith. The shocking numbers come from a new report from Open Doors USA, an advocacy group that focuses on tracking and empowering persecuted Christians around the world.
Among the troubling statistics, 3,066 Christians were killed, 1,252 were abducted, and 1,020 were raped or sexually harassed. 800 churches were also reportedly defaced.
Christian women are especially vulnerable to persecution. According to David Curry, the president and CEO of Open Doors USA, sex traffickers will receive more money for the daughters of religious leaders than they would other girls.
“The most significant findings were that Christian women are among the most violated in the world, in maybe a way that we haven’t seen before,” Curry told Fox News. “We need to raise the flag. These are tactics are being increasingly used by extremists.”
Because so many incidents of rape and harassment go unreported, these statistics are believed to only reflect a fraction of the real numbers.
The top ten countries for Christian persecution, according to Open Doors USA, were:
1. North Korea
“Afghanistan and North Korea nearly tied,” Curry said. “Never before have the top two countries been so close to incidents. Both countries are extreme in intolerance and outright persecution of Christians in every area Open Doors monitors. Afghanistan now meets the same level of persecution as North Korea in five out of the six areas. This is a tragedy considering the efforts being made by the international community to help rebuild Afghanistan are failing to ensure freedom of religion.”
The 300,000 Christians in North Korea are forced to practice their faith underground, as the totalitarian regime views religion as