Photo by Eitan Elhadez-Barak/TPS on 11 December, 2023

Jewish, Muslim Women Denounce World Silence on Hamas’s Sexual Attacks

Public By Pesach Benson • 21 January, 2024

Jerusalem, 21 January, 2024 (TPS) -- A Jewish beauty queen from Israel and a Muslim doctor from Britain denounced Hamas’s sexual violence and the silence of feminist groups at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Wednesday.

Linor Abargil, and Dr. Qanta Ahmed were participating in a group discussion at the gathering. The Israeli-organized event, titled, “Women at the Forefront of the Global Peace and Security Agenda.”

Abargil, now a lawyer, women’s rights activist and mother of four, described being raped as a teenager several weeks before the 1998 Miss World competition, which she went on to win, becoming connected to women’s rights groups around the world, and the silence she encountered from those organizations following Hamas’s sexual violence during the October 7 massacres in southern Israel. Abargil’s voice trembled as she read from her prepared remarks.

“On October 7th we witnessed the most horrible massacres atrocities rape mutilation of the worst human behavior carried out by the Hamas terrorist organization. I turned to all my colleagues and friends worldwide, as well as to the leading women’s rights organization to expose this terrible event, certain that they will speak up and condemn this unspeakable event,” Abargil said.

“And what did I discover? That there is a discriminatory approach, and violence against one woman doesn’t equal to violence another, as in this case of Israel. Their silence, apathy and oblivion shocked me to the core. They even had the audacity to ask for evidence when it was all there to see. There is no need for more proof, it’s all out there to see,” she said.

“And there’s still girls that are out there being raped and abused every day. Anyone who doesn’t speak up against this is silently complicit to sexual violence against all women, not just Israeli women. For the first time, I really feel alone. I always felt that as a victim, I had support, that someone had my back. And now I stand here at Davos with that empty feeling of being alone,” Abargil said.

“The word is silent is not and not a word is being said. I cannot accept that I have come here alone carrying their blood, their torn clothes, their wounds, their broken bones, their shattered and burnt bodies left behind by Hamas with nothing left to bury,” she added.

Also participating was Dr. Qanta Ahmed, a Muslim doctor from Britain and women’s rights activist. Ahmed visited Israel after the October 7 attacks “to bear witness,” she said.

“I felt compelled to go and witness the events shortly after October 7 in my capacity as a doctor and as a Muslim who condemns the actions of Islamist jihadism, which is how I believe Hamas acted,” Ahmed explained. “And the work of a doctor is generally listening to a patient and keeping them company, even if we have no treatment options, and that bearing witness is important for us to do as human beings, whether we’re Muslim or Jewish or Christian.”

Ahmed stressed that “These ideologies in radical Islam are all about exterminating ‘the Other,’ including the Christian women in Qaraqosh, in Nineveh in Iraq, burning churches, eliminating women, girls [and] babies. They do not discriminate in their hate, though the antisemitism I’ve seen is eliminationist and genocidal.”

Ahmed added that she was visiting Israel’s National Forensic Center “looking at the remains of people that had been subjected to this genocidal violence, when a Muslim Queen questioned if there was truly evidence that children and women had been lost in this way,” referring to Jordanian Queen Rania. The queen had told CNN that the butchery “hasn’t been independently verified.”

Said Ahmed to Abargil, “So many Israeli police, detectives, soldiers doctors, forensics specialists told me even more barbaric than the violence was the denial and so your voice is extremely important and I stand with you, not because I’m a Muslim committed to demolishing radical Islam, but as a human being and you are my fellow human being and I will stand with you.”

The true scope of the rapes may never be known, because most of the victims and witnesses were killed. At least 1,200 people were massacred in Hamas’s attacks on Israeli communities near the Gaza border on Oct. 7. Several female hostages released during a November ceasefire have described being sexually abused while in captivity.

The Davos discussion also featured Tatiana Kotlyarenko, an advisor on anti-trafficking issues at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and Anastasiya Dzyakava, an expert on child protection.