This article includes references to sexual violence
Activists have held a demonstration at Tate Modern in London to highlight what they describe as the failure of the international feminist community to speak out against sexual violence allegedly perpetrated by Hamas against Israeli women.
The protest was timed to coincide with a Tate event on feminist protest in art, including the dissident Russian punk band Pussy Riot and the art collective Guerilla Girls, which was being held as part of the gallery’s Women in Revolt! exhibition.
The protesters wore bloodied trousers to honour 19-year-old Naama Levy, who is among approximately 130 Israelis still being held hostage by Hamas after the 7 October atrocities.
A distressing video showing Levy with bloodstains and injuries was one of the first pieces of footage to emerge following the attacks, and has become a symbol of the sexual violence that Israeli authorities say was committed by Hamas militants that day.
The protestors spelled out “#metoo” in tealights and held images of the female hostages that remain in captivity, chanting “bring her home” and “rape is a war crime”, according to the Jewish Chronicle. They then made their way inside the turbine hall, where they stood in silence.
The organisers of the event say they sought to raise awareness of the plight of female hostages, and condemn what they describe as the silence of feminist organisations worldwide on the evidence that rape and sexual violence were used against Israeli women as a weapon of war.
This evidence has been documented in reports by international news organisations including the New York Times and the Guardian.
In a statement to media, 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.”
It is not the first time the gallery has been the site of protest related to the Israel-Gaza war. In November last year, a coalition of arts and cultural workers staged a sit-in in the gallery’s Turbine Hall in solidarity with Palestine, protesting against what they described as the censorship of pro-Palestine views in cultural institutions.