On Oct. 6, Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared war. To date, thousands of people have died or been injured, and more than 100 others have been taken hostage.
In response to the escalation of conflict in the Middle East, YWCA USA CEO Margaret Mitchell issued the following statement:
“At YWCA USA, we believe in a world of justice, where all people — particularly women and girls — are safe and free from violence. The violence that erupted this week in the Middle East – including reports of violence committed against civilian women, the elderly, children and babies – leaves no doubt that this vision of justice, safety, and freedom from violence has been shattered for millions.
“We are particularly concerned for the women and girls who are trapped during this escalating violence. Women and girls living in conflict zones face a greater threat of gender-based violence and are frequently the targets of rape and other sexual violence by armed combatants, in direct violation of internationally recognized human rights standards.
“YWCA USA condemns any actions that violate essential human rights standards in the strongest possible terms. We call on all engaged in this conflict to ensure that women, children, the most vulnerable and those providing humanitarian aid are protected from threats of violence and violence against them. As we continue to monitor the situation, we remain steadfast in our mission of eliminating racism, empowering all women and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all.”