On International Women’s Day: European Jewish Congress dismayed by tepid EU response to UN findings of Hamas sexual abuse of women

(Brussels, March 8, 2024) – Following the release of a report by the United Nations Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict earlier this week detailing what it termed “clear and convincing information” of rape and sexualised torture by Hamas against Israeli women during the attack of October 7th, and subsequently those still held hostage in Gaza, the European Jewish Congress notes with dismay the tepid and barely existent response of European institutions, particularly in the context of International Women’s Day this week.

The UN Special Representative, Pramila Patten stated that such “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment” may even be continuing against those still held by Hamas terrorists in Gaza, now more than five months since they were forcibly removed from Israel.

“It is unthinkable that sexual violence against women should be utilised as a deliberate action in a conflict shown daily across our screens throughout Europe and yet on this International Women’s Day, the institutions of the European Union have absolutely nothing to say on the matter,” Raya Kalenova, EJC Executive Vice President said.

“Where the international community have hidden behind all manner of excuses to pinpoint the scale of this horror targeting women, now the evidence is totally clear,” she added.

The EJC has also highlighted the stunning silence of many international human rights organisations, including even international women’s rights organisations, to the plight of Israeli women held by Hamas.

During a 17-day visit to Israel and the West Bank, the UN special representative and her team also found victims, mostly women, bound and shot and fully and partially naked, indicating clear forms of sexual violence.

“Many Israeli women remain in constant threat and are even still likely experiencing sexual abuse at the hands of these terrorists,” Kalenova said. “We will never stop demanding their immediate release and that of other hostages. And we will not cease calling on the international community and the European Union to work for that release. It is gratifying that the US; the UK and France have urged the United Nations Security Council to investigate Hamas’s sexual crimes, but the lives of these women remain at daily risk. The campaign to save these women must lie at the heart of all our international campaigns to liberate women from abuse.” 


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