OPINION: Shaming UN Women – a protest by Jewish women

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

OPINION: Shaming UN Women – a protest by Jewish women

The lack of recognition for the sexually abused female victims of October 7 has rightly triggered a global campaign

Brigit Grant is the Jewish News Supplements Editor

UN Women: a demonstration to get validation for Israel's female victims of sexual abuse by Hamas
UN Women: a demonstration to get validation for Israel's female victims of sexual abuse by Hamas

Over 1,000 women met near Downing Street on Sunday to launch a new campaign drawing attention to the deafening silence of UN Women over the horrific violence against Israeli women and girls at the hands of Hamas terrorists.

That UN Women broke their silence the day before demonstrations were held in Berlin, Paris, Copenhagen, Geneva, Washington, Vancouver,  Houston, Philadelphia, Madrid and London was telling, as their statement: “We unequivocally condemn the brutal attacks by Hamas on Israel on  October 7….. and… We are alarmed by the numerous accounts of gender-based atrocities and sexual violence”. This came after UN secretary general Antonio Guterres said the abhorrent acts by Hamas will be “vigorously investigated.”

This was too little, too late for the angry protestors who gathered under the banner  ‘@unwomen_forallwomen’ to shame the United Nations’ agency for gender equality and women’s empowerment for taking eight weeks to respond to the sexual abuse crimes committed in Israel.

As the global champion of women allegedly, UN Women launched its  International Awareness Week for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on November 25, but still dragged its heels for almost a week before uttering a word of recognition about Israel.

The arrival of the global campaign, which addresses the double standards of UN Women, was marked in London and all cities with an installation of women dressed in black with orange tape across their mouths, though there was no silencing the speakers on Sunday, among them Conservative Cllr and Deputy Chairman of West Midlands Region Mattie Heaven, who is the wife of Vahid Beheshti who went on a hunger strike against the UK government’s lack of understanding of the risks posed by Iran.

The other speakers were academic Dr Chloe Pinto,  Reverend Hayley Ace, Co founder of the Christian Action Against Antisemitism and Social activist Nimco Ali, OBE, Co-founder and CEO of The Five Foundation and  Laura Marks of the Jewish Women’s Alliance.

Passionate, informed and critical of UN Women, they were joined on the podium by Dame Maureen Lipman and Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, deputy mayor of Jerusalem, who came directly from the airport to express her concern about the fight to get justice for Israel’s women.

Brigit Grant with Dame Maureen Lipman

I also spoke at the protest as I felt compelled to do so after writing about the horror experienced by the victims on October 7 and then listening to the testimony of a woman who dealt with the identification and burial of the murdered and mutilated females at the morgue.

I had never spoken at a rally before, but overwhelmed by frustration and fury I had to speak out after being invited to do so by two of the organisers, Orit Eyal Fibeesh and Odelia Haroush.

There were many Jewish events last weekend and the size of our community meant many could not attend the launch of UN Women. But many did, shouted “shame” and showed their support for a cause that unites all women. And there were men present too, some of whom told me how moved they had been and how important powerful words are at this awful time. My husband Neil Gold was there and helped to hone my speech and my daughter Madison wept at the unfairness of a hideous situation that sees the pain and harm of Jewish women go unrecognised.

phots : Chico Ashkenazi

Sadly – and wrongly – there were no TV News channels present to capture the demonstration. There should have been, and I would like to know why? But for those who did not come and would like to be sent the speeches, email me brigit@jewishnews.co.uk for the full speeches and be sure to listen to every word and pass them on.

Visit https://unwomen.me UN Women’s own site which addresses the crimes endured by Israeli women. It features testimonies of the massacre and the severe violence against women, comment and analysis and data currently absent from the official UN Women site.










Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: