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United Nation's women's rights group criticized for double standard regarding gender-based violence

UN Women deleted statement condemning Hamas for the Oct. 7 atrocities against Israeli women and children

Israeli women protest outside the UN Headquarters in Jerusalem, November 27, 2023. Photo by Flash90

Just a little more than 50 days since Hamas committed brutal acts of sexual violence against women and children during the massacre of 1,200 Israelis and kidnapping of more than 240 hostages on Oct. 7, the women’s rights group, UN Women, has gone silent once again.

On Friday, the group issued a statement condemning the Hamas terror group, but later deleted the post.

“We condemn the brutal attacks by Hamas on October 7 and continue to call for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages,” read the initial statement, posted on UN Women’s Instagram page.

Shortly after, it was replaced with a statement where the condemnation of Hamas had been removed and only called for the release of the hostages.

Word of the edited post spread quickly among Jewish and Israeli activists and others, reinforcing their position that the organizational arm of the United Nations, whose primary focus is to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment, maintains a double standard when it comes to gender-based violence against Israeli women.

Israel’s First Lady Michal Herzog and Sheryl Sandberg, a former top Meta executive have lobbied publicly on the topic. Many of the activists have used the hashtag “#MeTooUNlessURAJew.”

When asked to comment on the criticism, UN Women told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) that the Instagram post was scheduled in advance and deleted because the message “no longer reflected where the organization wanted to put its main focus.”

“In any social media team managing multiple campaigns and during a very busy time like the one we are now, with 16 Days of Activism, mistakes can occur,” a representative for UN Women told JTA.

The release of some hostages over the weekend as part of a temporary truce between Israel and the Hamas terror group changed the organization’s priorities, according to the media spokesperson.

“UN Women social media team had pre-planned days in advance this particular post, but then the news broke on the release of hostages, and we really wanted to focus on that,” she said.

“UN Women has condemned the attacks by Hamas and the deaths of Israeli civilians from the beginning, as well as called for the release of hostages, and we will continue doing so until the conflict ends. We have also called for all allegations of gender-based violence to be rigorously investigated – prioritizing the rights, needs, and safety of those affected.”

Apart from an initial statement condemning the attacks on civilians in Israel, all of UN Women’s public statements about the war and its impact on women has been centered only on Palestinians rights.

Last week, Sima Bahous, the group’s executive director, called for an extension of the current temporary truce between Hamas and Israel into a permanent ceasefire and for the release of all hostages.

The United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution last month calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza but voted against a provision condemning the Oct. 7 Hamas slaughter. On Monday, the Knesset held a session about the crimes against humanity committed against women during the Hamas assault.

The National Council for Jewish Women said the second statement made by UN Women group’s last week was inadequate. The NCJW previously criticized UN Women’s silence on sexual violence against Israeli women during the Hamas terror attack on Oct. 7.

“The delayed issuance of a statement that fails to explicitly address the severity of Hamas’s terrorist attack on Israel – such as the brutal murder of over 1,200 people in Israel, torture, and rape of women, as well as the targeting of civilians and families – is equally reprehensible,” the statement said.

“Immediate and unequivocal acknowledgment of these atrocities is imperative, given the blatant violation of international law.”

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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