CHOICE Denounces the Violence in Gaza
CHOICE is deeply concerned about the clear violations of international humanitarian law that we are witnessing in Gaza (1). As the UN Secretary General, António Guterres mentioned during his remarks to the Security Council: “the attacks by Hamas did not happen in a vacuum”: it has been over 73 years (2) of occupation (3) and apartheid (4), and over 16 years of blockade and siege against Gaza (5).
As a feminist youth-led organization, CHOICE is committed to advancing sexual reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and meaningful and inclusive youth participation (MIYP). Therefore, we strongly believe that a cease-fire, ending the apartheid, and liberation for Palestinian people are essential pre-conditions for SRHR and MIYP to be realised.
We stand by our organisational values and commitment to keep decolonial, anti-racist, and historically underrepresented perspectives at the forefront of our work to ensure access to human rights for all. We join the collective call of other youth advocates, youth-led organizations, humanitarian organizations, and SRHR organizations globally to call for a cease-fire and condemn the violence and oppression that is being inflicted in Gaza.
What does this mean for human rights, including SRHR:
Palestinian people have historically faced significant challenges in accessing SRHR services and rights. Despite some improvement in the two last decades, the situation remains dire: maternal mortality has worsened as 78% of maternal deaths in Palestine in 2020 were preventable, there remains an unmet need for family planning and approximately 94,000 marginalized Palestinian women [and girls] lacked access to sexual and reproductive health services in 2020 (6).
Between October 7th and 12th 2023, over 6000 bombs have been dropped on the small Gaza area (7), killing over 5000 people in a span of 6 days –a rate of 14 Palestinians per hour (8). The bombardment has not stopped since then, rapidly increasing this number every hour, every day. The continuous bombardment has not only ended the lives of the Gaza population, half of whom are below 18, but has also severely affected SRHR service delivery. According to UNFPA, after October 8th, 2023, an estimated 50,000 pregnant women were trapped in the conflict, with around 5,500 due to give birth within the next 30 days – more than 160 deliveries every day. These women and girls are facing extreme challenges in accessing safe delivery services, as healthcare systems in Gaza have completely collapsed, hospitals are overwhelmed with patients, and running out of fuel for generators, water, medicines, and basic supplies. These deliveries, many of them with pregnancy or birth-related complications, are taking place without access to safe reproductive health services and amid constant bombardment (9).
As a youth-led organisation advocating for bodily integrity and autonomy, we strongly condemn the current situation, in which it seems that certain bodies are considered more important and more deserving of health services, including SRHR, than others. Instead, we passionately advocate for a human rights-based approach that values the importance and worth of everyone.
Call for action:
As said by the UN Secretary General, “[Palestinians’] hopes for a political solution have been vanishing”. As an organization that engages with, and strongly believes in, international human rights frameworks, the United Nations and the international community, we believe that states and civil society must respect and fulfill the universal human rights, a commitment all states have made with the explicit purpose of preventing the human rights violations currently unfolding in Gaza.
We call upon all governments (especially those with a feminist foreign policy in place) to call for a cease-fire, to end the occupation, and to ensure that access to services, especially SRHR, is prioritised as an integral part of the justice process.
As a youth-led organisation, we understand that this conflict can be difficult to understand. Especially in times of unprecedented disinformation, it can be hard to find credible sources to learn and ensure we able to make informed decisions and take a stand that matches our values. Therefore, we have added a list of different sources, reports, documentaries, journalists and media makers that we trust and that have helped us better understand the situation in Gaza right now. We hope this helps you too. Knowledge is power.
Sources used in our statement above:
- Source: UN Secretary-General's remarks￼ to the Security Council on the Middle East (24 October 2023)
- Source: Amnesty International
- Source: UN Secretary-General's remarks to the Security Council on the Middle East (24 October 2023)
- Source: Amnesty International International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid
- Source: Human Rights Watch:
- Source: United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)
- Source: post on X made by the Israeli Air Force (12 October 2023)
- Source: Relief Web (humanitarian information portal) 14 October 2023
- Source: United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)
Additional resources to better understand the situation in Gaza include:
- Short Vox video, Gaza Explained
- Explainer by Al-Jazeera
- What is occupation? In international law, a territory is considered “occupied” when it is actually placed under the authority of the hostile army (See Doctors Without Borders)
- What is apartheid? All inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them (see International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid)
- What is a blockade and what is a siege? Therefore, both words imply a military operation for closing an area and stopping the supply of people or goods and completely controlling what goes in and out. Blockade is more so in reference to water and air, whereas siege is more so in reference to land (See more in Oxford English Dictionary on blockade and siege)
- UNFPA report on crisis in Palestine
- UNFPA on SRHR in Palestine before 7 oct
- Israel/Palestine: Devastating Civilian Toll as Parties Flout Legal Obligations
- “Israel’s Apartheid against Palestinians: Cruel system of domination and crime against humanity: A report by Amnesty International
- UN documented meeting at the Security Council on Illegal Settlements - 2016