Subscribe to our Newsletter

click to dowload our latest edition


Featured Item

Women take to streets against Hamas sexual violence

Avatar photo



“Our women have been betrayed,” said Wendy Kahn, the national director of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies, who led an International Women’s Day march of Jewish women through the streets of Johannesburg on Friday, 8 March. “They have been silenced. The absolute horror of the brutality that they experienced on 7 October has been covered up and has been ignored.”

Hundreds of Jewish women marched with Kahn with “#MeTooUnlessYoureaJew” emblazoned on their black tee shirts, loudly alerting all passersby to the fact that the world is ignoring the plight of women in Israel. They carried placards showing the hostages before they were abducted, and what they look like now, according to photographs from Hamas. They held placards with photographs of the horrific visuals of abused women that were sent to the world on social media by Hamas on 7 October. “Me too unless you’re a Jew!” they chanted. “Believe Jewish women!” “Let our hostages go!”

Outsiders may see Johannesburg Jewish women as adorned in high heels and Prada, but the community’s women showed their grit, determination, and strong voices on the march to fight for the rights of all Jewish women.

Marching, singing, and chanting, they made their mark as they headed up Constitution Hill to what was once the Women’s Jail. Standing at the foot of the Statue of Hope outside the old jail wall, Kahn said it took more than a week for the South African government to say anything about what happened on 7 October in Israel. “They couldn’t come up with any sympathy for the people whose lives had not only ended, but who had been raped, sexually abused, and violated in the most cruel and torturous way. Shame on them! And still, 154 days later, our government hasn’t recognised the horror that happened on that day.”

Kahn spoke of how she had just been in Israel, where she witnessed the horror of what had happened on 7 October. “I walked into houses, and I saw the kitchens where the dishwashers were still packed and they were burned, and the fridges were burned, and I thought of those families who sat around the tables in those kitchens that are no more. Some of them were burned alive, some of them were raped, and I stood there.”

She said she couldn’t help but think about the hostages who were kidnapped on that horrific day and are still experiencing sexual abuse. “They’re still being violated. We’ve seen the photos of what some of them look like now. Hamas took such pleasure in filming the abuse. It took such pleasure in sending photographs of what these women look like now, how they have been absolutely torn apart, are bleeding, and absolutely desperate,” she said.

“We’re asking: why isn’t the world getting these women out? Why is it waiting? Why is it letting the sexual abuse continue? This is absolutely disgraceful! This should be uppermost in our minds all the time.”

Miriam Gvaram, the deputy executive director of the Survivors of Sexual Violence Advocacy Group, who came from Israel to join the march, shared her experience of 7 October – see story on page 10 – and her shock at the world’s disbelief and disregard of events.

“The world cannot be silent. I cannot believe that people around the world say it didn’t happen. How can they say that? There are survivors that say that it happened to them. There are first responders who describe how they found the bodies, naked, tied up in trees, tied to chairs. I don’t understand how the world can be silent. How can people not believe it?”

Kahn told the crowd of women activists that the Board was to deliver a memorandum to the president at the Union Buildings that afternoon. In it, she said, would be a call for him to condemn the sexual violence that was perpetrated by Hamas on Israelis and civilians on 7 October, as per the United Nations report.

“We want you to condemn the sexual violence that’s being perpetrated on Israeli civilian hostages in Gaza by their Hamas captors. We want you to use all means to exert pressure on Hamas to release the hostages, to end not only their captivity, but also the sexual abuse being committed against them.”

The memorandum also called on the president to call on all relevant bodies to bring the perpetrators of sexual violence to justice.

Jewish women in Cape Town also took to the streets outside Parliament on Friday afternoon to give their voice to the call.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *