Post-War Trauma Afflicts Gaza Girls, Women

My latest article for Women's eNews

One year after the Israeli offensive in Gaza, the reconstruction has not started; neither for the buildings or lives shattered, said Dr. Seita Akihiro, director of the health department at the UNWRA -the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees.

"War does not only destroy the buildings; what war destroys is the lives of the people," Akihiro said in a phone interview from Amman.

His colleague, Dr. Ghada Al-Jabda, chief of the field of health program in Gaza for the refugee agency, echoed that sentiment, saying the crisis in Gaza is leading to a "social degradation.

Women and children, Al-Jabda said, have always been the first to pay the price during and after the successive wars in Gaza,

The 50 days of conflict during July and August 2014 resulted in heavy casualities in Gaza: 2104 Palestinians killed, included 1,462 civilians, of whom 495 children and 253 women. In addition, more than 100,000 refugee homes or dwellings were damaged or destroyed, according to the U.N. The consequences of the conflict are now affecting families at several levels, with women and children being heavily impacted, whether it's early marriage, increased violence or complications in pregnancy.

Along with the successive wars and the political instability, the Palestinian territory has undergone a blockade imposed by Israel since 2006. As a result, Gaza residents can barely leave the enclave.

One result of that isolation, Al-Jabda said, is, among other consequences, a high rate of early marriage (at 33 percent) and a 24 percent divorce rate among young couples only one year after their marriage. Read full story here