Women and girls in Gaza are experiencing unprecedented levels of violence, making the besieged territory one of the world’s most dangerous places for women right now, according to the global NGO ActionAid.
More than three women are killed every hour in Gaza, the aid group said in a statement to Al Arabiya English.
According to ActionAid, women and girls in Gaza are being killed and injured at a horrifying rate, having their essential rights to food, water and healthcare denied daily, while undergoing immense psychological strain and trauma after two months of living in terror.
“Gaza is the most dangerous place in the world to be a woman or girl right now. The number of women and girls being senselessly killed in this violence rises by the hour,” Riham Jafari, Coordinator of Advocacy and Communication for ActionAid Palestine, said in the statement.
“Meanwhile every day is a desperate struggle for them to meet their most basic needs.”
At least two mothers are killed every 60 minutes, while seven women are killed every two hours in the besieged enclave, doctors in the territory told the organization.
More than 5,000 women have been killed since Israel waged war on Gaza following the October 7 incursion into southern Israel by Hamas militants.
More than 17,500 have been killed in the conflict, almost 70 percent of them being women and children.
Pregnancy and labor amid war
Around 50,000 women in Gaza are pregnant, the NGO said.
Some 180 soon-to-be mothers are risking their lives each day to give birth without adequate medical care by undergoing caesareans and emergency operations without sterilization, anesthesia, or painkillers.
A midwife at the al-Awda hospital in northern Gaza told ActionAid that dozens of pregnant Palestinian women have gone into labor in the midst of Israeli bombardments.
“During the Israeli [attacks] on Gaza, we witnessed a number of cases of women who survived violence from the attacks,” the organization quoted a doctor at the hospital as saying.
“There was one woman whose house was bombed, and [she] was rescued from under the rubble. She reached the hospital with several breaks and fractures all over her body. She was also in active labor, so she was rushed to the operating room. Thankfully, both she and her child survived and are now doing well. [But] this woman’s right to have a safe place to give birth in was lost. She also lost her right to access basic needs for both herself and her child.”
With Israel widening its offensive in the strip, at least 800,000 women have been displaced from their homes in Gaza, according to ActionAid.
Many women are now living in extremely overcrowded facilities – most of which have one shower for every 700 people and one toilet per every 150 people, Jafari told Al Arabiya English in the statement.
There is little or no water for them to wash with, no privacy, no soap for them to keep themselves clean and no sanitary products.
According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), more than 80 percent of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents have been internally displaced and are left with little to no options for safe shelter.
Humanitarian aid worker and mother, Aya, told ActionAid: “As a woman, I’m suffering. I don’t have access to the basic necessities of life. There is no water. I suffered during my period. There was no water available for me to get clean during my period. I had no sanitary pads for my own needs throughout my period.”
In the last two months, women and girls in Gaza have bore witness to “unimaginable scenes of death and destruction,” according to ActionAid.
The crisis has taken a severe psychological toll on them, the NGO added.
With nowhere safe, there has been no relief from the terror of wondering whether they and their families will live to see another day.
“Today, I no longer have hope. I have become more afraid than before. Every day that passes, this fear and terror increases more. I, as a mother, have only two wishes. The first thing I wish is that I die before my children. I don’t want to see my children die in front of me. The second wish is that I die quickly,” Yara, a mother and humanitarian worker who has been displaced to southern Gaza, told ActionAid.
The NGO reiterated its calls for a permanent ceasefire, saying it was the only way to end the devastating violence women and girls in Gaza are currently experiencing.
“For two whole months, this nightmare has dragged on, leaving women and girls in Gaza wondering why the world has abandoned them. It’s no surprise that some are starting to lose hope. The world cannot let the women and girls of Gaza down any longer – it must demand a permanent ceasefire, now,” Jafari said.