The world-wide silence was deafening! No one was condemning the premeditated rape and sexual violence inflicted on women and children by Hamas and its collaborators in Israel on October 7th, 2023, and on the hostages held in Gaza. The evidence was irrefutable. These were crimes against humanity. Rape should never be used as a weapon of war. Not in Israel. Not anywhere. 

Incensed, women and men around the globe came out by the hundreds, and then by the thousands to protest. Raising their own voices because the influential international organizations who would normally advocate for the victims of rape and sexual violence had remained silent for nearly five months! 

Hadassah supporters around the world organized to End The Silence. They promoted and signed a petition on Hadassah websites and on social media addressed to the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres demanding that the UN speak out about the atrocities and bring the perpetrators to justice.

In 18 countries women organized events in their own communities to coincide with International Women’s Day which fell on March 8, 2024. Hundreds of women in Paris (France), Buenos Aires (Argentina), Santiago (Chile) and Montevideo (Uruguay) painted their shoes red, and marched in the streets to demand an end to the silence. In Sao Paulo (Brazil), Mexico City, Panama City, Rome (Italy) and Hong Kong, they held community events to protest. In New Zealand they stood on the streets of Auckland wearing End The Silence T-shirts and held up placards. In Israel they wore End The Silence T-shirts as they ran in the Jerusalem marathon. Hadassah UK held a webinar. In Canada they held events in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal. In Berlin (Germany) Hadassah participated in a round table discussion that was held at the Bundestag. Women in hundreds of cities in the USA turned out for community events. In Trinidad they marched outside the UN Buildings. In Brasilia (Brazil) they met with local UN representatives. View some of the international protest activities. 

A Hadassah delegation attended meetings at the UN in New York, during the United Nation’s 68th Commission on the Status of Women. Those who attended the Commission’s opening address by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, noted that he continued to lay all the blame for the war at Israel’s feet. The Hadassah delegation also attended parallel meetings where they were able to speak up, including a Town Hall meeting with Guterres attended by 600 international women, and held a reception at the UN to protest the silence.

Carol Ann Schwartz, the National President of Hadassah took the opportunity while at the UN to meet with Her Excellency, Pramila Patten, United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict. Schwartz explained that “We cannot let our international institutions undermine efforts to pursue justice. UN Women denied our request to speak about this issue during the Commission on the Status of Women meetings, but we will not be silent. For the sake of women everywhere, we must come together around the world to speak the truth and demand action. Let’s be clear, the UN’s current recommendation that the biased, antisemitic Commission of Inquiry (COI) established May 2021 be the primary group investigating these crimes can only be interpreted as a disingenuous move designed to bury evidence and undermine justice.”

Jorge Deiner, Executive Director of Hadassah International, after flying around the world to participate in End the Silence events, thanked those who signed the Hadassah Petition, saying “We have started to End The Silence on sexual violence committed by Hamas on women and children since October 7th. Thanks to each of you, the Hadassah petition has become the voice of thousands who collectively have said that sexual violence as a weapon of war is never acceptable. We will continue our struggle to end the silence of international organizations.”

Dr. Manno Saks, President of Hadassah International stated after participating in a roundtable discussion on the issue of sexual violence against women as a systemic weapon of war at the Bundestag in Berlin: “It is important to also reach out to Governmental leaders across the world to speak out about this issue. The international community’s silence in the face of irrefutable evidence of Hamas’ savage war crimes legitimizes rape and the use of rape as a weapon of war — it emboldens bad actors.”

Hadassah continues to collect petitions demanding that the UN end its silence.

It is not too late to sign the petition. So far Hadassah has mobilized over 130,000 individuals in 118 countries and nearly 120 major organizations to demand that UN Secretary General Guterres hold Hamas accountable.

The signatures on the petition have come from Albania, Andorra, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Aruba, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Bermuda, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cayman Islands, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Curaçao, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Estonia, Ethiopia, Faroe Islands, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Gibraltar, Greece, Guatemala, Guernsey, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Ivory Coast, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, North Macedonia, Northern Ireland, Norway, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Polynesia, Portugal, Republic of South Africa, Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, Thailand, The Bahamas, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Uruguay, United States of America, Venezuela, Vietnam, Yemen, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

We will prevail. Together, we will End the Silence

Am Yisrael Chai!