Ex-Iran hostage Dr Kylie Moore-Gilbert speaks out on Hamas sex attacks.

British-Australian academic Dr Kylie Moore-Gilbert survived 804 days as a defiant hostage to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) — the principal backer of Hamas — in 2018. At the ‘No Excuse for Sexual Violence’ vigil in Melbourne she spoke out about her experience. Here is what she said:

To be honest, I struggled with whether or not to take part in this vigil. Just as I have struggled every single day since October 7. I don't believe I'm the only one who feels that something profound was broken on that dreadful day of barbarism and slaughter. I've been struggling to reorient myself ever since.

As the terrible scenes unfolded that day, and social media filled with clips and images of the most horrific things, I was taken back to my own arrest and imprisonment during what was meant to be a two week academic trip to Iran.

In those first days I was a woman surrounded by a menacing group of black-clad men, many of whom covered their faces. The number one thing I feared was not the loss of my liberty, but sexual assault. It took months in Revolutionary Guard custody before I understood that as a foreign woman of some value to my captors, they would not be doing this to me. Hundreds of Israeli women and girls have not been so lucky.

I have tried to shelter myself as much as possible from the horrors of October 7, and in particular the torture and sexual violence inflicted upon Israeli women and girls before many of them were brutally murdered. In the weeks since however, the sickening details have somehow filtered in. The trauma of that terrible day is undeniable.

This subject is difficult to talk about. But talk about it we must. We have a particular duty to do so as women, and as feminists, because so many others have sought to minimise, erase or even outright deny what was inflicted upon innocent Israeli women and girls on that dreadful day.


The silence of some international women's forums and Western feminist organisations has been profoundly disappointing. For me however, it hasn't necessarily been surprising.

Since my release from prison I have become somewhat involved in the Iranian women's movement. There too there is a great sense of being let down by the sisterhood, particularly in the wake of the Mahsa Amini protests in Iran from September last year.

During this, the first women-led revolution in the region's history, female protesters and women who removed their hijabs in the streets were subjected to rape and sexual assault on an industrial scale inside Iran's prisons. What did women's rights organisations have to say about that? Precious Iittle.

Iranian and Israeli women victims of sexual violence have been largely abandoned by their sisters here in the West, because their suffering for some reason does not fit with the dominant or fashionable narrative about Middle Eastern women. We cannot advocate for women's rights only when such causes fit neatly into whatever echo chamber the algorithms have designed for us.

It is possible to hold two truths at the same time, and both oppose the deaths of innocent women and children in Gaza whilst standing against the horrific, unspeakable acts of sexual violence and torture perpetrated against Israeli women and girls on October 7.


As feminists we should oppose rape and sexual violence everywhere, at all times, period. We cannot be selective about the victims of such atrocities.

October 7 hit me so hard in part because I know the mentality of the men who did this. Not only do my own captors, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, share the same worldview as Hamas, they openly celebrated Hamas's atrocities, and even declared an annual holiday to commemorate them.

I lived among the IRGC for more than two years, I learnt their language, I learnt how they think. My Iranian captors are the primary backers, funders and trainers of Hamas, and I have no doubt that they had a hand in the horrific slaughter of innocents that occurred on October 7. As they rape Iranian women considered "uncovered" or "immodest" in their own prisons, so they would encourage the unspeakable sexual crimes committed by Hamas against Israeli women on October 7.

Why did Hamas abuse women and girls on such a shockingly widespread scale? Why this seemingly premeditated, organised campaign of sexual terror?

Radical lslamist groups like Hamas first of all view Jews as sub-human, many of them believe that the Jewish people must be erased from the earth in order to usher in the End of Days. Their attitude to women, including their own women, is similarly dehumanising.

Women are viewed as objects or chattels who can be won from male enemies as spoils of war. When sexual violence is conceived of as a method of dishonouring the enemy more broadly, rape becomes just another tactic or weapon of war. According to such a twisted, sickening worldview, women's bodies themselves become a kind of battleground.


To Hamas therefore, such sexual warfare is justified.

If you care about the rights of Palestinian women, what Hamas did to Israeli women should terrify and outrage you too. Many of these serial rapists and murderers were not captured or killed in Israel, most went back into Gaza. Many of these Hamas terrorists have wives and daughters there. Imagine welcoming your husband back into your home knowing he had participated in the gang rape and murder of teenage girls, with footage broadcast live on the internet. I don't believe any amount of cognitive dissonance could legitimise or justify that in the mind of a Palestinian wife or mother.

Palestinian women are undoubtedly also victims of Hamas's barbaric and dehumanising view of women. In Gaza there is no such thing as marital rape. A woman's body belongs to her husband to do with it as he pleases.

According to fundamentalist Islam girls as young as 9 can be married off, indeed in Gaza one fifth of all girls are married before the age of 18. According to Hamas, Palestinian women do not have bodily autonomy. Their bodies are seen as birthing vessels for nurturing a next generation of jihadists, with mothers encouraged to contribute their sons as martyrs for the cause.

It shocked me to learn that in Iran, my Revolutionary Guard captors advocated for the religiously-sanctioned rape of female prisoners on death row, because they believe that women who die a virgin automatically go to heaven. As a result, thousands of Iranian political prisoners were raped before being executed following the revolution in the 1980s.


We have seen Hamas indulge in this sickening practice on October 7. Many of the Israeli women and girls who were slaughtered were subjected to horrific sexual violence, torture or gang rape prior to being executed.

It is excruciatingly painful to watch some Western feminists and international organisations tie themselves in knots attempting to minimise, or qualify, or even worse- justify, the sexual pogrom of October 7.

Rape is not, and can not, ever be a legitimate weapon of war. If we believe in gender equality, and the innate and inalienable right of women and girls to live free of sexual violence, we must oppose the horrific atrocities committed against our sisters on October 7, no matter where these atrocities occurred, nor in what context.

I stand in solidarity with the many thousands of innocent Palestinians killed during the war in Gaza, and with Palestinian women victims of Hamas's violent misogyny. Just as I have stood with Iranian victims of the Islamic regime in Iran which rewards and inspires Hamas.

I stand in solidarity with the Israeli women and girls brutalised, tortured and murdered or taken hostage by this woman-hating terrorist group on October 7. I know you will join me in honouring their memory.

It shouldn't need to be said that rape and sexual violence as a weapon of war can never be justified, qualified or contextualised.

Featured Image: AAP One.