UN expert on sexual violence believes hostages in Gaza are still being abused

Amy Spiro is a reporter and writer with The Times of Israel

Pramila Patten, the UN special representative on sexual violence in conflict, says that hostages held in Gaza by Hamas since October 7 were likely subject to “sexual violence including rape, sexualized torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment” and that her office believes such treatment may be ongoing.

Presenting a report into sexual crimes carried out by Hamas on October 7, Patten says that there is “clear and convincing information” that hostages brought to Gaza were raped and there is “reasonable grounds” to believe that hostages still there are still being abused.

She also says that there are “reasonable grounds” to believe that “rape and gang rape” occurred during Hamas’s October 7 onslaught in “at least three locations,” including the site of the Supernova music festival, Kibbutz Re’im, and Route 232 in the area.

Evidence, she says, points to the fact that most victims in question were “first subjected to rape and then killed,” as well as “two incidents of the rape of women’s corpses.”

She notes that the music festival was the site of “brutal mass murders” and many bodies were extensively burned, while others were found “fully or partially undressed, bound, and shot.”

She says that she was in Israel and the West Bank for 2.5 weeks, meeting with 33 Israeli institutions, as well as 34 individuals, including survivors and witnesses, released hostages, first responders, and others, but did not meet with any survivor of sexual violence, noting that she was told the small number of living survivors are undergoing “specialized trauma treatment.”

Her team also viewed 5,000 photographic images and “some 50 hours of footage” of the attacks.

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