Violence Against Women and International Law

LLRX is curating research sources for their relevance and relationship to this site’s Israel-Hamas War Project articles. This guide will be updated moving forward and currently includes 8 pertinent sources comprising government reports, academic papers, reviews of UN/NGO programs, news, databases, analysis and commentary. Part 2 of this series, posted December 31, 2023 – is available here. Other updates will be forthcoming in 2024.

The data, analysis and commentary herein identifies the ongoing lack of action by global organizations who continue to ignore, minimize and inaccurately report on acts of violence against women and girls around the world even in light of acknowledged law. The visibility of organizational failure has risen since the terror organization instigated massacre on October 7. The organizations’ specific scrutiny include the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (also known as UN Women) and the UN Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights, both of which have refused to address or even acknowledge the violence and murder perpetrated against women and girls during the October 7th massacre. One response to the UN Women’s silence is #MeToo_UNless_UR_A_Jew [note this links to X – formerly Twitter] that been trending over social media. The phrase also has its own website.

Also as of November 29, 2023 5:29pm per The Times of Israel: In first, UN chief calls for investigation of sexual violence during October 7 onslaught.

Elkayam-Levy, Cochav, A Path to Transformation: Asking ‘The Woman Question’ in International Law (July 12, 2021). Michigan Journal of International Law, Vol. 42, 2021, Available at SSRN: Cochav Elkayam-Levy – Penn Carey Law, University of Pennsylvania; The Leonard Davis Institute for International Relations, Hebrew University; Lauder School of Government, Reichman University. Date Written: July 12, 2021.

Abstract: “This article proposes the “woman question,” a method that reveals the implications of legal rules on women, as a potentially widely shared method in the study of international law. This question revolves around the impact of the law on women and is designed to expose those elements in the law that disadvantage women or submerge their perspectives in ways that might appear neutral. However, this central concept has been diluted over the years and has receded to the background of feminist thought. This paper brings it back to the foreground and develops the concept to make it an effective methodology for feminist scholars from a wide range of streams of feminist thought.

The article shows that the central feminist question in international law is in fact the woman question, probing: What is the impact of the law and its institutions on women? I argue that the question of gender impact is central to our understanding of the international system and can be widely shared. It allows us to look beyond abstract domestic and global concepts and to find the actual impact of rules on women within States. As I note in the article, “while this question seeks to highlight and address the continuing injustice that women experience, it also allows scholars to see beyond the gender binary in ways that take into consideration a spectrum of genders and the impact of the law on people of all genders. It proposes clarity and promises a feminist sensitivity to any analysis of international law. Above all, it solves a rather perplexing dilemma of a choice between the ramified feminist approaches.”

Based on this method, I develop a unique analytical model that tackles the distinctive ways in which the international legal system perpetuates women’s inequality. The model is predicated on the evolving global idea of transformative equality asking us to reimagine the rules by which our society operates. It urges scholars to undertake a transformative reconstruction endeavor and is intended to encourage transformative processes that confront entrenched social and legal gendered structures within the international legal system. It requires a complicated intellectual effort to reimagine the future as means to move towards a gender-just global system. Hopefully, reimagining the future will be the most empowering, fulfilling, and transformative result of this work.”

Women In October 7th Massacre – 420+ Female Victims 800+  Male Victims

“On October 7th, a coordinated wave of assault by the Hamas terror organization resulted in the deaths of over 320 women. Additionally, about 100 women and girls were kidnapped. Women and girls caught in the rampage were sexually brutalized, physically tortured, and killed. Survivors witnessed it, and surveillance footage caught it. Survivors, women who endured the horrors of the attacks, were not only confronted with the profound loss of their loved ones but also subjected to sexual assault. Hamas perpetrators, primarily men, went beyond acts of violence; they deliberately targeted women, treating them as property or vessels to inflict harm on the state of Israel. This gender-specific war crimes compounds the already distressing impact of the assaults, and calls for the urgent need to look at its the broader consequences. The is a comprehensive site dedicated to shedding light on the many events that took place during the October 7th massacre. Within this broader context, our focus here is specifically on the experiences of women during these tragic events.”

MSNBC, November 25, 2023: How feminists have failed Israeli victims of sexual violence – The skepticism that met Israeli women’s claims perpetuates traditions of dehumanizing Jews. “…This tragic minimization — or justification, in some cases — of violence against Israeli women appears to be the result of an ideological turn among some feminists and progressives that elevates an “antiracist” agenda above the core feminist commitment to defend the universal right to bodily autonomy for all women. This argument contends that because Israel is a colonial power oppressing the Palestinians, any resistance is a justified dimension of decolonization. The “settler colonialism” concept that undergirds this position, however, is insufficient to characterize a complex conflict between two majority nonwhite peoples who both have long-standing claims to the contested land. When such a theory serves to excuse rape, it is simply indefensible.”

Political Violence Targeting Women

Women around the world are facing unprecedented levels of targeted political violence. This violence takes a wide range of forms, including conflict-related sexual violence against women and girls in war zones, attacks on women in politics, and backlash against women’s advancement within patriarchal power structures. Understanding the gender-differentiated consequences of conflict and political disorder is integral to identifying the types of strategies needed to ensure the protection of women and girls relative to the civilian population at large, and to develop approaches aimed at achieving real security equality.

To track these trends, ACLED has created this dedicated Research Hub to provide a platform for near real-time information on political violence targeting women (PVTW) and political violence targeting women in politics (PVTWIP) around the world, including a curated data file, interactive data visualization tools, and a repository of analysis pieces.

CRS Report – Women in the Middle East and North Africa: Issues for Congress Updated December 16, 2021

Many experts have found that women in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) fare worse than those in other parts of the world on a range of social, economic, legal and political measures. Some attribute this under performance to prevailing gender roles and perspectives (including discriminatory laws and beliefs), as well as challenges facing the region overall (such as a preponderance of undemocratic governments, poor economic growth, wars, and mass displacement, which often disproportionately affect women). This report includes data analysis respective to Conflict, Displacement, and Gender-based Violence. [Note – It is my hope that this report will be updated to reflect the October 7th massacre.]

UNRWA Education: Reform or Regression? A Review of UNRWA Teachers and Schools Concerning Incitement to Hate and Violence, UN Watch March 2023 “…In 100 pages of evidence exposing abuses by UNRWA teachers and schools, this report reveals compelling evidence of UNRWA’s gross and systematic violations of neutrality and other UN rules in their hiring of teachers and in their use of curricula inside UNRWA schools that constitute incitement to hatred, antisemitism and terrorism. UN Watch has published a series of reports in recent years that exposed over 100 UNRWA staff members who posted incitement to jihadi terrorism and antisemitism on Facebook, which in turn elicited praise and endorsement of their posts from their UNRWA students and fellow staff. Likewise, IMPACT-se has published three reports analyzing hundreds of pages of teaching materials revealing that content glorifying terrorism, inciting violence and promoting antisemitism (which UNRWA has consistently insisted it does not teach) is actually included in UNRWA’s own materials—created by UNRWA staff, for UNRWA students, and taught in UNRWA classrooms. UN Watch’s prior reports have emphasized that the problem is not the social media posts, which UNRWA often takes down after they are publicly exposed. Rather, the problem is that UNRWA deliberately and systematically hires teachers who publicly praise Hitler, glorify terrorist attacks against Israeli children, and spread Goebbels-like conspiracy theories against Jews. If Palestinian children matter, and they do, then donor countries should not be enabling the poisoning of their minds with hate, something they would never allow at home for their own children. In fact, the nations that provide millions of dollars to UNRWA like the United States, Canada and the UK, rightly ban teachers of hate from the classroom. In Canada, the US and the UK, just to give a few examples, teachers who teach antisemitic conspiracy theories, make jokes about gas chambers, or tweet about the need to kill Jews, have been fired. There should be zero tolerance for hate in the classroom. Yet this report documents how UNRWA continues to hire teachers of hate. Thus it is not surprising, as IMPACT-se has shown, that these UNRWA teachers prepare teaching materials for their students that glorify terrorism, encourage martyrdom, demonize Israel and deny its very existence, and spread antisemitism. There are two parts to this joint report. Part I contains 10 new examples of UNRWA teachers and other staff posting support for hate or violence, including: conspiracy theories about Jews controlling the world; praising Hitler; glorifying terrorists such as Diaa Hamarsheh, who in a March 2022 attack in the Israeli city of Bnei Brak, shot to death five people; praising Lion’s Den Terrorists who perpetrated recent terrorist attacks in the West Bank; and celebrating other terrorists belonging to Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade..”

See also this GAO Report referenced in the report above – West Bank and Gaza: State Has Taken Actions to Address Potentially Problematic Textbook Content but Should Improve Its Reporting to Congress. GAO-19-448 Published: Jun 04, 2019. “The State Department gave money to a UN relief agency that funds certain children’s schools in the West Bank and Gaza. Congress required State to report to them on this agency’s activities. We found State’s reports in FY 2015-2017 weren’t always accurate or detailed. For example, the UN agency evaluated the Palestinian Authority textbooks used in their schools, and found content that didn’t align with UN values such as human rights and tolerance. However, State didn’t report certain details of these evaluations to Congress.”

Posted in: Education, Ethics, Human Rights, International Legal Research, Legal Research, Terrorism