EJC co-organises event in the European Parliament on sexual violence perpetrated by Hamas on October 7th

The European Jewish Congress co-organised an event in the European Parliament focusing on the systematic sexual violence perpetrated by Hamas against Israeli women during the October 7 attacks in Israel.

The event was co-hosted by Vice-President of the European Parliament, Pina Picierno (S&D), MEP Ilana Cicurel (Renew Europe), MEP Assita Kanko (ECR), MEP Monika Hohlmeier (EPP) and MEP Katrin Langensiepen (Greens/EFA).

Following International Women’s Day and taking stock of the recent UN Report by the Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict confirming the use of sexual violence by Hamas, including rape, sexualized torture, and inhumane treatment against hostages and victims in Israel, the event aimed to raise awareness of the plight of Israeli woman towards an indifferent international community.

EJC Director of European Affairs Ariella Woitchik moderated the event.

In her opening remarks, French MEP Ilana Cicurel said that this event shows that there are European voices determined to “speak up for Israeli women, denounce Hamas sexual torture, and defend the universal cause of women’s rights”.

“History has taught us that when confronted with infamy, despite the abundance of proof that Hamas terrorists proudly recorded, there are some who refuse to acknowledge the reality of the October 7th massacre. We didn’t know that all of us who are involved in women’s rights would have to face the silence of feminist organisations” expressed Cicurel.

For its part, Belgian MEP Assita Kanko emphasized that as “elected representatives, our responsibility is to be intellectually curious and to open our eyes when we see injustice, but when MEPs refuse to discuss the brutal aggression that women suffered in the hands of Hamas because they are uncomfortable, we have a problem”.

“Our commitment is to speak the truth about what happened to Israeli women and denounce the political silence that perpetuates the violation of women’s rights. Hard facts need to be recognised, and this persistent denial is shocking. We need to speak up about what happened on October 7th, and we need justice”.

German MEP Monika Hohlmeier remarked that while “there is significant attention from feminist organisations regarding various forms of violence against women, we haven’t heard anything from them about the Israeli women that were tortured by Hamas, whose bodies were exploited and treated as if they weren’t human beings”.

“I’m frustrated that some in the European Parliament don’t believe Israeli women. If there is brutal violence against Israeli women, every woman needs to stand and fight with us. I would expect all women’s organisations to be outspoken and condemn sexual violence, which serves as a medal for Hamas terrorists.”

After the remarks from MEPs and Israeli Ambassador to the EU and NATO, H.E. Haim Regev, two distinguished speakers offered invaluable insights into the matter: Prof. Yifat Bitton, a law professor and President of the Achva Academic College of Science & Education in Israel, as well as the co-founder of Tmura, The Israeli Center for Equality, and Orit Sulitzeanu, the Executive Director of The Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel (ARCCI).

Additionally, the audience had the opportunity to listen to testimonies from two released hostages who were held in the Gaza Strip by Hamas.

The event was organised in partnership with AJC Transatlantic Institute, B’nai B’rith International, Elnet, World Jewish Congress, and the Mission of the State of Israel to the European Union & NATO.