Obstetric violence in Gaza: new brief

Amidst the ongoing crisis in Gaza, a silent yet devastating form of violence afflicts women: obstetric violence. The Kvinna till Kvinna Foundation has developed a situation and policy brief on this topic that describes how pregnant, postpartum and breastfeeding women in Gaza are facing obstetric violence as a result of the hostilities.

Over 10,000 women are estimated to have lost their lives to violence perpetrated by Israeli forces. Against this backdrop, approximately 180 women navigate the challenges of childbirth every day, amidst a landscape marked by destruction and despair. The heinous intersection of reproductive rights violations and armed conflict ravages the lives of women in Gaza. From increased rates of miscarriage to the scarcity of essential prenatal care and nutrition, the impact on maternal health is staggering. Attacks on healthcare facilities have left expectant mothers grappling with limited resources and inadequate medical support, exacerbating an already dire humanitarian crisis.

The consequences of bombing maternity care centres, contributing to miscarriages, malnutrition and other negative health consequences, whilst also wiping out the civic registry, undoubtedly will have extreme consequences for the Palestinian people for, decades to come. Israel has failed to adhere to the ruling of The International Court of Justice, ICJ, which ordered Israel in January to do everything in its power to protect civilians in Gaza and to prevent genocide. A UN expert has later stated that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the threshold for genocide has been met.

As Kvinna till Kvinna, we believe that it is essential that we protect the gains of implementing the Women, Peace and Security Agenda by naming the ongoing violations in Gaza as obstetric violence and it should get the same attention that we give to other forms of gender-based violence. Kvinna till Kvinna reaffirms the need to understand how the current attacks on Gaza violates women’s rights and affect all parts of their lives, particularly the less discussed obstetric violence.

Immediate action is needed:

  • All actors must work towards an immediate and permanent ceasefire, ensure the release of the hostages and unlawfully detained Palestinians.
  • The Women, Peace and Security Agenda must be fully implemented. UN Member States have commitments under the WPS Agenda to protect women in times of war, including from obstetric violence.
  • Any transfer of weapons or ammunition to Israel must cease immediately, in accordance with commitments as part of the Arms Trade Treaty. States that are importing military equipment from Israel should also cease these imports. We call on governments who publicly espouse a feminist foreign policy to evaluate how their commitments under this policy match their arms trading policy vis-à-vis Israel.
  • The government of Israel must ensure the access of humanitarian aid across Gaza in accordance with the ICJ’s provisions. This includes safe and unimpeded delivery of sexual health and reproductive supplies, as well as increased access to these services.
  • The government of Israel must comply with the ICJ’s ruling, including taking the necessary measures to refrain from acts under the Genocide Convention.
  • Donors and the international community must commit to long term funding on sexual health and reproductive rights for Gaza. This must include financial support to women’s rights organisations already operating in Gaza.
  • Organisations and activists advocating for the WPS Agenda should work towards a comprehensive understanding and implementation of the Agenda, not only focusing on the protection of women from sexual violence.

—The Kvinna till Kvinna Foundation

Obstetric, reproductive & maternal violence in Gaza

The brief describes how pregnant, postpartum and breastfeeding women in Gaza are facing obstetric violence as a result of the hostilities. Read more and download our policy brief »

Previous statements about Gaza