The Menstrual Hygiene Crisis for Palestinian Girls and Women in the Gaza Strip

2023-12-11 19:15:00

Palestinian girls and women in the Gaza Strip face “humiliating” conditions during their menstrual cycle, two months after the war, and they find themselves forced to replace sanitary pads with pieces of cloth or diapers.

Since the outbreak of war more than two months ago, Palestinians have faced a severe shortage of food, water, and even personal hygiene supplies in Rafah, south of the Gaza Strip, to which 1.9 million people have fled.

Hala Ataya (25 years old), who was displaced to a school affiliated with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees after leaving Jabalia camp, narrates, “I tear up my children’s clothes or any pieces of cloth I find to use them as towels when my period comes.”

She added, “I used to shower every day before the war. Now I can barely shower once every two weeks.”

Hala, a mother of three children, points out, “There are no feminine pads. If they are available, their price is very high. It is unbearable.”

Like other displaced people, Hala and her children share a bathroom with hundreds of others. The toilets emit unpleasant odors.

Women line up in long lines waiting to use the bathrooms, while flies are everywhere.

“stone Age”

As for the girl Samar Shalhoub (18 years old), who was displaced to Rafah and now resides in a school, “We have returned to the Stone Age,” explaining, “The most basic human necessities have become non-existent. I feel ashamed and humiliated.”

She continued, “The situation is suffering. There is no safety, no food, no water, no hygiene. There are no feminine napkins, no water for bathing, and the bathrooms are dirty.”

During the menstrual cycle, Shalhoub says, “We use pieces of cloth, and this causes skin irritations and infections.”

Intisar Al-Derawi, who works on the school’s hygiene committee, told AFP, “Many women are asking for medicines and ointments to treat skin infections.”

The emergency coordinator for Doctors Without Borders in Gaza, Marie Uri Berrio-Reveal, noted that since the start of the war, “requests for contraceptives have quadrupled, because women no longer want their menstrual cycle,” and these pills work to delay or prevent them.

Now, after closing its health centers where women could be treated, the organization is focusing on daily emergency cases.

– Suffering –

ActionAid denounced in a statement on Sunday the living conditions of many women and girls in Gaza, explaining that they live “in overcrowded facilities, and in some places there is only one shower for 700 people and one toilet for 150 people.”

According to the organization, “they have little water to wash, no privacy, and no soap to keep themselves safe.”

Ahlam Abu Brika, who was displaced for more than sixty days, describes her living conditions, noting, “Personal hygiene is a struggle. Water is not enough for everyone.”

She explains how she chose to reduce her fluid intake for two purposes: first to provide it for her children and also to reduce the number of times she has to use the toilet.

She noted, “I lost 15 kilograms of weight.”

The NGO Action Against Hunger confirmed that water shortages make it difficult for women and girls to deal with menstruation “in healthy or dignified conditions.”

While the organization noted that many of them “use menstrual products for a longer period than expected, which increases the risk of infection.”

In one of the classes, Umm Saif (52 years old) sat with her five daughters, noting that they use “baby diapers” during their menstrual cycle.

The diaper is divided into two parts for use.

But diapers have also become less available and their prices have risen

But it is difficult to even find diapers, the price of which has risen from 14 shekels (3.5 euros) to 25 shekels (6 euros).

#Menstruation #Gaza.. #suffering #women #girls

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