Editor’s Note: Sheryl Sandberg is the founder of Lean In.org. The opinions expressed in this commentary are her own. Read more opinion at CNN. This article contains graphic and disturbing accounts of sexual violence.
Conflicting reactions to the recent attack on Israel and subsequent war in Gaza have led to heated and even violent disagreements in communities, colleges, Congress and coffee shops. People across the globe are protesting on all sides and shouting in the streets. But for one moment, I urge us to shift our focus from politics to humanity.
Because no matter which marches you are attending —or if you are attending none at all; no matter which flag you are flying — or if you are flying none at all; no matter what religion you practice — or if you practice none at all, there is one opinion that everyone can agree on: Rape should never be used as an act of war.
On October 7, Hamas terrorists committed unspeakable atrocities that we must speak about — and speak about loudly. Numerous witnesses have testified that sexual violence was widespread on that day, according to reports by Israeli investigators. An eyewitness has recounted the horror of watching a fellow concert-goer being gang-raped, then murdered. Rescue workers have reported recovering lifeless bodies, naked with their legs spread. Yet some are flat-out denying that these atrocities occurred. Even worse, some might actually believe that these women — mothers, daughters, sisters, and wives — ”deserved it.”