Warning: This report includes disturbing details about sexual violence. Please read with caution.
They were asleep in their home when they heard a loud bang on their door through the pouring rain. Eighteen-year-old EV (name changed) and her husband had no idea that armed men had entered their village in northern Nigeria’s Kaduna state on motorbikes and were moving from house to house, looking for women to sexually assault.
“They forced their way in, then ordered my husband to lie down on the ground,” EV told Open Doors, as she recounted the attack. “They shouted, ‘Lie down!’” As EV struggled and begged to care for her screaming sick child, the men forced her out of the house. “They forced me away, hitting me with the AK47 rifle [butt] on my left eye.”
That’s when she noticed the other women who had been taken. Along with EV, three more single women, aged 15, 18 and 25, were also victims of the group’s vicious agenda. “It was still raining when they took us away from our village,” EV says.
Another one of the victims, 25-year-old TJ (name changed), also spoke to Open Doors and said her attackers gave her two options: “They asked us to choose to either be [sexually assaulted] by gang members or to have our loved ones taken away for ransom. We told them our parents are too poor and can’t afford ransom, so they took us away on their motorbikes to Kutura and [sexually assaulted] us continuously all night, doing whatever they liked.”
The women told Open Doors that each one was raped by as many as five men before they were dropped off in the bush surrounding their village of Angwan Aku, a small farming community known to be predominantly Christian in the center of northern Nigeria. While the assailants’ group affiliation has not been identified at press time, the country’s Middle Belt region has been the brutal backdrop of thousands of violent attacks, kidnappings and sexual violence as Fulani militant herdsmen target and raze Christian farming villages.
“This is part of the strategy to totally destroy Christian communities—attacking all that they hold in high regard,” an Open Doors country expert shared. “If they can’t find the men to kill, they rape the women. That way they create a lasting effect on Christian families.”
Nigeria is the most violent country on earth to be a Christian
. During the 2022 World Watch List reporting period, Open Doors’ research found that 49% of rape for faith-related reasons happened in Africa, the majority of them in Nigeria. At least 4,650 Christians were killed for faith-related reasons, while at least 2,510 were abducted because they are Christians.
Our Open Doors team will be walking alongside these women and their families, offering medical help and trauma counseling as soon as it’s appropriate. Let’s rally around them and plead for their bodies to be healed and their hearts to restored and made whole again.
A critical prayer
Please pray with us in the weeks and months ahead.
Father, our hearts are broken for our Nigerian sisters. We ask that You be so near to them. Give them Your supernatural strength and the peace of Christ—and please bring them both quickly and abundantly. Father, we ask that You open up these victims’ hearts to receive trauma support from our partners, and we pray for our partners as they offer practical help and minister to these families. Lord, people are scared as these attacks in Nigeria grow more frequent and violent. We trust in Your great power and deep compassion to bring rescue, relief and restoration. Amen.
You can hear more updates from the persecuted church, including how you can pray alongside our vulnerable brothers and sisters, by signing up to regular emails. As well as recent stories, you’ll have the opportunity to pray for every country on the Open Doors World Watch List throughout the year.