Washington, D.C. – In the wake of the horrific genocidal attacks on Israeli civilians by Hamas terrorists on October 7th, 2023—which includes premeditated murder, mass rape, and violent sexual assault, and the deliberate use of real-time documentation and broadcasting of these crimes as psychological warfare—Independent Women’s Forum (IWF) and Independent Women’s Voice (IWV) are deeply concerned women’s human rights have been grotesquely neglected.
In a letter sent to the White House’s Gender Policy Council and to the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), leaders at IWF and IWV call on all advocates for women and girls to speak out unequivocally in condemnation of Hamas’s wilful dehumanization, murder, and abuse of women and girls, an abuse that included the obscene posthumous desecration and rape of women and girls.
“Rape is not a just weapon of war. It’s a war crime. No matter what you think of the larger geopolitical implications of what’s happening in the Middle East, we should all be able to agree that the horrifying sexual assaults on women and girls are simply unacceptable and that there must be consequences for this grotesque violation of human rights,” said Heather R. Higgins, CEO of Independent Women’s Voice.
A thorough investigation by Israeli authorities is still underway, documenting video footage, witness testimonies, and further evidence of the violence and torture towards women and girls. Israel Police Chief Kobi Shabtai told media that Hamas “cut limbs and genitals, they raped, they abused corpses. There were sadistic sexual acts.”
Underreporting of rape and other sexual violence is common, but Orit Sulitzeanu, Executive Director of the Association of Rape Crisis Centers, based in Tel Aviv, cautioned that “with war crimes, we know there will be extreme underreporting.”
That’s why Independent Women’s Forum Senior Fellow Dr. Qanta Ahmed traveled to the frontlines of the violence in Israel as a human-rights observer with the permission of the nation’s Foreign Affairs Ministry and help from Israel Defense Forces officer Kobi Valer to bear witness to the truth: “It was immediately apparent to my physician’s eye that these human beings had been subject to lethal eliminationist antisemitism, and the remains of each death that I had witnessed had clearly been prosecuted on these bodies by multiple means. I personally inspected bodies which had been repeatedly stabbed, shot, and crushed; bodies which had been mutilated, still tied at the wrist with cables and zip ties.
“Women, children, girls, and infants were not spared; often they were deliberately targeted,” Ahmed added. “I have been provided eyewitness accounts of Hamas commandos raping women, shooting the woman in the head during her rape, and continuing penetration after lethal execution of the woman. Other accounts reported to me include the amputation of the raped woman’s breast, the ongoing fondling of the amputated breast, or the woman’s limbs, while alive with the continuation of the rape.”
“It’s been disappointing, that so few women’s groups have been speaking out on this grotesque sexual violence upon Israel women. It’s pathetic that a spokeswoman for UN Women can’t just condemn Hamas. And where are groups like the National Organization for Women? Even in a press release to mark the ‘International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women,’ NOW ignored this recent, horrific mass assault on women,” said Carrie Lukas, President of Independent Women’s Forum.
“Sadly it’s not surprising, since these groups have consistently downgraded women’s interests in favor of their blind allegiance to a radical progressive agenda, whether that requires turning a blind eye to mass rape in Israel, ignoring the plight of incarcerated women who are forced to share cells with violent male prisoners claiming to be women, or watching men injure and rob female athletes of awards and opportunities in women’s sports,” Lukas added.
“When I served at the State Department under Secretary Condoleezza Rice, we fought for the rights of women, regardless of their political leanings. We lifted women up, and they knew Americans stood with them. Where is the outrage today on behalf of these women?” said Andi Bottner, Vice President of External Relations at Independent Women’s Forum and former Director of the International Women’s Issues Office, U.S. Department of State.
“The deafening silence from those who purport to advocate for women’s safety and security is tragically unsurprising given their inability to define ‘what a woman is,’” said Meaghan Mobbs, IWF Senior Fellow. “If we do not have the moral courage to define what it means to be a woman or a girl, we will be unable to have the fortitude to protect them. Sexual violence as a weapon of war is meant to weaken the social fabric of families and destroy entire societies—this is genocidal intent. Continued silence will only perpetuate this calamity. Women play a critical role in peace and stability post-conflict. A failure to aggressively prosecute, literally and metaphorically, mass rape as a weapon of war will erode women’s power and prevent their full participation.”
Independent Women’s Forum and Independent Women’s Voice are the leading national women’s organizations dedicated to advancing common-sense public policies and defending women’s rights as a matter of policy, culture, and law.
Media Inquires email [email protected]
Independent Women’s Forum is dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities.
Independent Women’s Voice fights for women by expanding support for policy solutions that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance freedom, opportunities, and well-being.