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Violence Against Women in the Gaza Strip after the Israeli Military Operation Protective Edge 2014

Participacion grupos mujeres Gaza_ 8 marzo 2014

This research was coordinated and leaded by ActionAid and Alianza por la Solidaridad, carried out by Catherine Müller and Laila Barhoum. It paints a wider picture of the prevalence, incidence and types of violence against women (VAW) across Gaza after the last Israeli military operation Protective Edge in summer 2014. It also draws conclusions and makes recommendations about what services can be offered to better protect and support survivors of VAW, and what interventions can be planned that tackle attitudes and trigger behavioral changes in order to decrease VAW.

According to the main results of the research, most of the violence experienced by women was perpetrated by husbands or other family members inside their homes (as it happens in most conflict situations). 39.6 per cent of women interviewed in the survey experienced at least one type of domestic violence (defined as acts of physical, sexual, emotional, or other forms of abuse perpetrated against a married or non-married woman by a husband or other family members she lives with, both at home and in public spaces) since the end of the Israeli military operation in 2014 (out of which 19 per cent experienced sexual violence). More than 63 per cent of women who experienced domestic violence reported being subject to different types of abuse. Displacement during the hostilities in 2014 was significantly correlated with higher likelihoods of experiencing domestic violence, particularly emotional and physical. Psychological or emotional violence was the type of violence most prevalent (28.2 per cent), followed by economic violence, physical violence, controlling behaviours and sexual violence.

Although the use of formal and informal support mechanisms has slightly increased in the last years, the most frequent coping strategy used by women is to try to solve the problem themselves: around 28 per cent of abused women do not speak to anyone about it. Health centers and clinics are the first external support mechanism where women resort to (17.1 per cent of women who experienced violence resorted to a health center).

Women themselves identify a clear link between political violence from Israeli occupation and violence against women, as well as between husbands' feelings of stress/depression in connection with the economic situation resulting from the Israeli political violence and women's exposure to violence. VAW increased between the 12 months before and 11 months after the Israeli military operation: 33 per cent of the women reported having experienced violence before, compared to the 37.7 per cent who reported it after the war. A 22.3 per cent reported that they experienced violence during the war. 7,6 per cent of women who had ever experienced domestic violence in our sample had experienced it only since the outbreak of the war in summer 2014, and 2.7 per cent experienced it exclusively (i.e. temporarily) during the war. Some of the interviewed women did indicate that violence levels against women slightly decreased during war time, with the exception of shelters where much violence, particularly rapes, were witnessed.

The study main recommendations are:

  • To design multidimensional and multisectoral responses that include life-cycle perspectives, gender-equitable development strategies for girls and boys and women and men, participatory education and community mobilization that address gender norms and attitudes at household and community levels, as well as political strategies to challenge unequal systems directly involving governmental institutions through partnerships.
  • To develop awareness-raising activities for different groups, involving both men and women, combining education with leisure, and using media to educate about women's rights, roles and violence against them.
  • To combine such interventions with psychological, financial and legal support, and economic empowerment initiatives in order to provide women with real choices to reduce dependence.
  • To include remote areas on the VAW interventions.
  • To advocate against early marriage, particularly for the legal marriage age to be raised.
  • To strength coordination between governmental, non-governmental and international actors in order to improve systems where relief and development programmes could work together without the need to discontinue one at the expense of the other in times of emergency.

Download the study

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