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Gender-based Violence: Hamas

Volume 742: debated on Wednesday 13 December 2023

4. If she will have discussions with the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs on the Government’s response to reports of gender-based violence by Hamas since 7 October 2023. (900627)

It is crucial that the international community recognises the atrocities committed by Hamas, and that Hamas are held to account for their barbarism. That is why we are engaging with partners, including the UN, to ensure that perpetrators are held to account for their depravity.

The UK remains a global leader in eradicating sex-based violence. Our preventing sexual violence in conflict initiative has £60 million in funding to combat conflict-related sexual violence and ensure that survivors access redress and support. On 28 November, we announced a further £33 million to support grassroots women’s rights organisations tackling sex-based violence.

I thank my right hon. Friend for that answer. Hostages who have been released have reported Hamas atrocities, such as being subjected to physical and sexual violence in captivity. The Israeli health service also reports that hostages have been drugged to make them look happy on videos. Will my right hon. Friend join me in condemning Hamas for doing that and in demanding that the International Committee of the Red Cross has access to every single one of the hostages immediately?

I share my hon. Friend’s horror. It is extremely distressing to hear all those reports, and I do unequivocally condemn the sexual violence that is being reported. We continue to engage regularly with partners, including the UN. I will pick up the points that he raised directly with the Foreign Office to see whether we can do what he asks. It does sound like something that needs the involvement of the Red Cross, but we will make sure that we co-ordinate across Government for a dedicated response on this issue.

Will the UK use its seat on the UN Human Rights Council to raise the use of gender-based violence on 7 October, and to secure a clear condemnation from its members of the rape, murder and torture perpetrated against women by Hamas on 7 October?

I thank the hon. Lady for her question. Yes, we will. We have raised the reports of sexual violence attacks on 7 October with UN Women and with the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict. I will make sure that we continue to do this and to impress upon international organisations that the whole world needs to respond to this.