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JERUSALEM, Palestine - Khitam Abu Jrayy from Gaza lived in a violent marriage for more than five years. Daily, she was exposed to physical abuse and psychological harassment from both her husband and his family. During those long years Khitam suffered at home with no safe haven to seek refuge and help. Only her parents provided her with comfort and support.

Khitam is one of thousands of Palestinian women becoming victims of gender-based violence (GBV) every year. Within the last five years the number of honour killings in Palestine has increased fivefold and 50% of women in Gaza have been subjected to physical or sexual violence mainly from their husbands.

GBV is the most pervasive yet least recognized human rights abuse in the world. The Arab region ranks second worldwide in terms of the prevalence of all forms of GBV, and Palestine is unfortunately not an exception

Danish Funds Boost UNFPA GBV Response 
In order to provide the necessary support to victims of gender-based violence as Khitam and continue preventing the incidents from happening in the first place, UNFPA Palestine launched a two-year project, in close cooperation with the Ministry of Health - funded by the Government of Denmark.

The launch took place in Ramallah on 12 June 2014, bringing together implementing partners from different line ministries, and NGOs.

The main objective of the project titled “Working together to stop GBV in Palestine” is to increase access to lifesaving multi-sectoral GBV services within a functioning national referral system. In that respect the Danish funds will enable UNFPA Palestine to expand its response to improving the availability of reproductive health and psycho-social services for GBV survivors. Furthermore, it will help improve the functioning role for the GBV sub-working group to enhance coordination and mainstream GBV within relevant humanitarian and development sectors.

GBV Survivor Becomes a Change Maker 
Upon receiving and psycho-social support through Culture and Free Thought Association in Gaza supported by UNFPA Palestine and financial support through the Ministry of Social Affairs, Khitam started working as a Coordinator in a local NGO supporting small economic empowerment projects. Empowered by her own suffering from GBV, Khitam is committed to support women in need; apart from having become an activist for women rights with the Bureij Women's Health Center, she is also joined a group of women community leaders "Mokhtarat" that works on mediating disputes and social conflict resolution.

This project is part of the regional UNFPA project entitled "Innovations to Eliminate Gender-based Violence in Humanitarian Contexts" in Sudan, South Sudan, Yemen, and Palestine.