IGP Stories

Research and Motherhood in the Context of Genocide: Challenges and Resilience

Nawal Hamad

06 December 2023

There are many scenes of war in Gaza. The killing and bombing is broadcast live by the media: Houses destroyed above the heads of their residents, and missing people under the rubble. The bodies of martyrs fill the streets and blood is on the clothes of the rescue teams. Entire families were killed and their names deleted from civil records. Phosphorus bombs fall like rain on schools and shelter homes. Bodies have been stolen from mass graves. Amputee children smile despite the pain.

This is not a Hollywood movie. This is Gaza.

In the face of all these massacres, the international community is still unable to reach solutions or stop the war completely.

The Palestinian people chose resistance to restore the rights of the Palestinian people and draw the world’s attention to their suffering, especially ending the prisoner crisis in the Israeli occupation prisons. It was expected that the Palestinian people would pay a heavy price as a result of taking this complicated step. Unfortunately, the ones who paid the highest price were Palestinian women and their children. Most of the targets of indiscriminate bombing were directed at these innocent civilians.

As a mother and researcher living in the West Bank, I was greatly affected by the massacres that killed so many women and children. I have a growing sense of responsibility to stand up for these women, spread their stories, and ask for support and their safety. The most touching scene for me was knowing that many pregnant women in Gaza had given birth through surgical procedures and without anesthesia. My mind does not comprehend the extent of the patience and pain these women had to endure. Statistics indicate that more than 50,000 pregnant women in Gaza face the risk of death due to the lack of an appropriate environment for them to given birth in.[1] Doctors have had to remove 6% of women's uteruses due to bleeding and infection after birth[2].

I wonder about the feasibility of activities aimed at combating violence against women, especially those affiliated with the 16 Days to Combat Violence against Women international campaign , which did not save even a single woman in Gaza from the danger of certain death.

The challenges also increased for me as a mother and researcher who carries out maternal tasks and tries to explain to her children what is happening in Gaza without spreading terror in their souls. On the other hand as a researcher, I am trying to spread the truth in light of the occupation’s tightening restrictions on publishing, freedom of expression and threats against anyone who tries to support Gaza[3]. I can no longer imagine what a good life looks like when I see the scenes of destruction in both the West Bank and Gaza. Finally, with all of this, as a Palestinian mother and researcher, I need to be steadfast as much as possible to preserve my family and my role in standing by the truth. We love our land and will defend it in order to remain on it and preserve its national identity.

Nawal Hamad is a Palestinian researcher and member of the FI - Palestine research team (Transforming Financial Inclusion to Finance Inclusive Prosperity in Ramallah, Palestine).

The views expressed here are the author's own and do not necessarily represent the views or position of IGP or UCL.

[1] UNFPA Arab states | النجاة من مخاطر الحمل في غزة التي مزقتها الحرب

[2] مخاض تحت أصداء القصف. نقص أكياس الدم يدفع نساء غزة لاستئصال أرحامهن (dostor.org)

[3] www.qudspress.com. More than 120 Palestinian women were arrested because of lack of freedom of expression

Image courtesy of Mohammed Ibrahim/UNSPLASH

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