Protesters demand solidarity for raped Israeli women at feminist art event

Demonstration at Tate Modern criticises feminist organisations for their silence in the face of sexual violence


Women protest outside the Tate Modern, London January 26, 2024 (Photo: Amanda Rose)

“Rape is not resistance” shouted activists during a feminist art event at the Tate Modern on Friday in a powerful statement against Hamas’ use of sexual violence.

Reminding gallery-goers of the plight of the hostages held by Hamas, the group of women wore bloodied trousers reminiscent of those worn by 19-year-old Naama Levy when she was bundled into a jeep in Gaza on October 7.

The activists carried signs with the names and faces of the hostages and were tied to each other with rope as they shouted: “Bring her home” and “Rape is a war crime”.

They protested outside and inside the Tate event, which featured the art collective, Guerrilla Girls, and the Russian punk rock resistance group, Pussy Riot. The evening event at the Tate was pitched as a “free night exploring art and activism”. The organisers of the demonstration, however, said the event “showed the silence and complicity of the international feminist community in the face of the mass rape of women and girls by Hamas”.

Passers-by asked the group questions and one Israeli woman stopped and wept: “I didn’t realise there was solidarity like this” she said, “I had felt so alone.”

When a different gallery-goer screamed: “Free Palestine!” at the group, they responded with the “Bring them home now!” chant. Israeli flags were also on display.

The group then moved into the packed Turbine Hall, where the women stood in silence, bloodied trousers on show.

Many of those demonstrating had taken part in other grassroots rallies as part of the #BringThemHomeNow campaign, but for some attendees, this was the first demonstration they had been to.

Michal said she attended because "not enough people are talking about the hostages being raped, especially feminist organisations. We need to show them what is happening.”

Meanwhile, Stevie said she had never taken part in this kind of action but was at the demonstration “to support the women and highlight what happened”. She said it was "appalling that people don’t acknowledge what happened on October 7".

Yox was out on the cold Friday night, “to point out the fact that the media are not reporting on the hostages, especially the female hostages that have been brutally treated and completely ignored. Feminist groups seem to be very one-sided. I find this very shocking.”

The organisers said: “The purpose of the demonstration is to raise awareness of the continued plight of the Israeli female hostages and criticise the feminist, cultural and women’s organisations about their hypocritical stand on this gender-related crisis.”

“Most of these organisations have ignored or failed to properly address the violence and sexual crimes committed against Israeli women and girls during the October 7 massacre, while the Israeli hostages are still facing, more than 100 days after, the same violence.”

There have been numerous reports from released hostages about the sexual violence perpetrated by Hamas terrorists against the hostages. Hamas also used sexual violence as a weapon of war on October 7, when it raped and pillaged southern Israel and killed approximately 1,200 people and took a further 240 hostages. At least 130 hostages are still being held by Hamas in Gaza, not all of them are alive. There has been growing concern about the fate of women hostages who might be pregnant.

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