The Media Line: In First, Delegation of European Female MPs Coalesce in Solidarity With Israel’s Victimized Women

In a packed Knesset meeting room, women and many men gathered to attentively listen to testimony and statements from European parliamentarians and activists highlighting the victimization and rape of women on October 7. It was a show of recognition and a historic moment of coalescence. The program also displayed a fashion show illustrating the plight of Israel’s exploited and abused women: the raped, the murdered, the kidnapped.

The concept was cemented when Member of Knesset Shelly Tal Meron sat center stage in a circle of seats packed with invitees. Among the distinguished women who followed Meron as she opened the session to raise global awareness of the magnitude of rape as a weapon of war were relatives of hostages, a Syrian Lebanese activist, and an Iranian British activist.

“We have 128 hostages, and especially the 17 women who are still held in Gaza. Today we are gathering as a global coalition. … I’ve been doing it together with the minister for gender equality in France and other countries. And we must acknowledge this new kind of terror because this is threatening not only Israel and Jewish women, but every country in the world. … So we must stand united and call for action against this new method of terror,” Meron shared with those in attendance.

Meron pointed out that not many people around the world were discussing the sexual assault happening to women in conflict areas globally. “It’s not only happening with Hamas and Israel, it’s also Ukraine, and Africa and ISIS, and different locations around the world,” Meron charged.

Representatives from 12 European nations attended to reinforce the establishment of a Global Coalition Against Gender-Based Violence as a Weapon of War at the behest of MK Meron, who is from the Yesh Atid party, and partnering organization ELNET, which fosters relations between Israel and Europe based on shared interests.

“Powerful women, members of parliaments, journalists, and community activists coming from all over Europe with the idea of protecting more women” is how Yossi Abravanel, ELNET deputy executive director, described the event. “If there is a subject where we have consensus between Israel and Europe, it’s the issue of violence against women and gender-based violence. The purpose of this gathering is to show the world that there is a new tool in the arsenal of terrorist organizations: They are now using sexual violence as a weapon of war,” Abravanel shared with The Media Line.

The goal of the event is “to make noise” and to publicize the issue, according to Abravanel, who is looking toward the passage of legislation in each represented country. Concurring with Abravanel, Emmanuel Navon, the CEO if ELNET Israel, said,  “I think we need to make this a crime that can be prosecuted in courts of law, both in national and international tribunals.”