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Women, children 'worst hit' by Indian anti-Christian violence

Activists in Delhi express concern over reports of tribal women being stripped and beaten publicly in Chhattisgarh

Indian women's organizations hold a protest against the orchestrated attacks on tribal Christians in the central state of Chhattisgarh, at Jantar Mantar in the capital New Delhi on Jan. 21

Indian women's organizations hold a protest against the orchestrated attacks on tribal Christians in the central state of Chhattisgarh, at Jantar Mantar in the capital New Delhi on Jan. 21. (Photo: Bijay Kumar Minj/UCA News)

Published: January 23, 2023 07:13 AM GMT

Updated: January 23, 2023 09:19 AM GMT

Women groups including Church organizations in India’s capital New Delhi urged the federal government to ensure the safety of women and children after a series of attacks on tribal Christians in the central state of Chhattisgarh.

More than 300 women protesters from 15 organizations assembled on Jan. 21 at Jantar Mantar, the protest site in the capital, to show solidarity with victims of the orchestrated attacks in villages across Narayanpur and Kondagaon districts in Chhattisgarh.

Some 1,000 tribal Christian families, including pregnant women, children and the elderly, have been forced to abandon their homes and villages by violent mobs of people accusing them of dishonoring the indigenous faith and practices by converting to Christianity.

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Activists expressed concern at reports of two tribal Christian women being stripped publicly and beaten in front of their families and other villagers in a bid to force them to give up the Christian faith.

The women protesters at Jantar Mantar shouted slogans and carried placards, which read: “Live and let live,” “Stop atrocities against women and children” and “Stop the attacks on tribal Christians.”

“Women and children suffer the most whenever and wherever there is violence,” Sister Anastasia Gill, a former member of the Delhi Minority Commission, told UCA News.

"When women and children are hurt, the entire society suffers"

She said the women's organizations belonging to various secular and religious groups “condemn the horrendous acts of violence against tribal Christians as well as the vandalization of churches and their homes.”

Minakshi Singh, general secretary of Unity in Compassion, said that sectarian forces are “trying to create an atmosphere of unrest in Chhattisgarh by raising the issue of religious conversions to serve their own political and corporate interests.”

Gayatri Devi, a member of a feminist group, said when women and children are hurt, the entire society suffers and so a united front is needed to stop the ongoing violence in the state.

The series of well-coordinated mob attacks on tribal Christians have been carried out for the past few months in the tribal-dominated southern region of Chhattisgarh.

The roots of it lie in non-Christian indigenous people insisting that their Christian counterparts give up their faith and return to traditional animist practices.

However, women activists believe that the attacks were fueled by the “organized influence of Hindu nationalist ideology” and that political leaders and organizations influenced by it are instigating anti-Christian violence.

Chhattisgarh has been ruled by the Congress Party for the past four years but the state's police have failed to take timely action against the perpetrators of the anti-Christian attacks, they feel.

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