Coptic Christian women mourn family members killed by ISIS – Reuters photo
By Tonia Khouri -
As we celebrated International Women’s Day last week, our social media feeds were flooded with photos of American women walking in marches across the country, accounts of participants in the ‘Day Without A Woman’ cause, and political arguments labeled as ‘women’s issues’ that reach as far as Capitol Hill, where legislators debate on our behalf each day.
But as a Christian whose faith is deeply personal, as the wife of a Lebanese immigrant, and as an American woman concerned for the future world my children will one day find themselves in, I am thinking of women elsewhere.
I am thinking of Christian women in the Middle East who’ve been persecuted for their faith—kidnapped and raped in acts of power at ages as young as 7 or 8, or as teenagers.
I am thinking of Yazidi girls—in Iraq, or Syria —who’ve been forced into slavery and posted on ‘menus’ for members of ISIS to purchase and enjoy them at their leisure.
I am thinking of children—babies, in some cases—who’ve watched their mothers die and their sisters suffer abuse of the kinds we cannot even fathom.
I’m thinking of 9-year-olds and 10-year-olds, who’ll be brides to men three times their age.
And I’m thinking of the mothers, who’ve stood powerless as their children have been beaten, raped, tortured, and murdered, with the faith that condemned them as their only comfort.
As Americans, it is easier to pretend their problems are not ours. They are worlds away—out of sight and out of mind—so it’s better to let their problems remain worlds away as well.
But as Christians, as women, and as human beings, we cannot do this. We cannot ignore these women—in many cases, these children—who suffer at the hands of ISIS, punished for what they believe or for the places they’ve been raised. We share a world with them, a gender with them, and in many cases, a faith with them. And in truth, it’s purely by chance that we are not them.
So during this week’s one year anniversary of the U.S. recognition of the ISIS genocide against religious minorities in the Middle East, let’s remember where we come from. Let’s remember that it’s a place where mothers and grandmothers are not subject to a daily fear that they won’t have the chance to watch their little girls grow up.
And remember our sisters in the Middle East, who are fighting a battle they’ve not yet won.
Tonia Khouri is an advisory board member with In Defense of Christians. She is a County Commissioner and Chairman of Economic Development for DuPage County, the second largest county in Illinois and was recently the Republican Nominee for the United States Congress.