The Continuous Violence Against Women, Girls and Children in Gaza

By Vanessa Onyema | May 13, 2024

 Photo: UN Women/Samar Abu Elouf

Since October 2023, the relentless violence in Gaza has disproportionately affected the most vulnerable members of society – women and children, and has triggered a humanitarian crisis of immense scale.

United Nations experts have condemned the systematic nature of the attacks, highlighting the discovery of mass graves containing the remains of women and children, some allegedly bearing evidence of torture and summary executions. These chilling details paint a horrifying picture of the brutality unfolding in Gaza.

The statistics themselves are grim. As of April 2024, nearly 14,500 Palestinian children and 9,500 women have been killed. The injured number is over 77,643, with women constituting a staggering 75% of that figure. Over 8,000 others are reported missing or beneath rubble, with experts estimating that at least half of them are women and children.

They also stated that an estimated 63 women, including 37 mothers, are killed every day, and 17,000 Palestinian children are thought to have been orphaned since the war in Gaza began. The conflict has also displaced 1.7 million people internally and left over a million facing acute food insecurity. 

The situation for pregnant women and new mothers is particularly dire. Israeli attacks on hospitals, coupled with a lack of beds and medical resources, endanger an estimated 50,000 pregnant women and 20,000 newborns. This healthcare crisis forces hundreds of women to give birth without pain relief, resulting in needless suffering.

Power outages due to the conflict further exacerbate the situation, leading to hundreds of infant deaths due to inoperable incubators.  The destruction of Gaza's largest fertility centre, housing 3,000 embryos, represents another devastating blow. This incident not only destroys hope for future families but also highlights the deliberate targeting of essential services.  

The lack of necessities like menstrual hygiene supplies further adds to the plight of women and girls. With an estimated 690,000 women and girls struggling to manage their menstrual cycle with dignity, the lack of privacy and proper sanitation exposes them to health risks.

The unprecedented destruction of housing and the precarious living conditions in tents disproportionately impact women and girls, jeopardising their security and privacy. 

The conflict in Gaza is a tragedy unfolding before our eyes. UN experts advised that Israel must cease all hostilities, and all weapons exports must be halted immediately. They stated that these governments can no longer disregard the fact that these weapons are used to kill and maim innocent women and children and there can be no more excuses.

Women and children are entitled to special protection under international humanitarian law and human rights law. The horrific impact on women and children demands immediate action and a concerted effort towards a peaceful resolution. 

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