Gender based violence is among the most important social problems in Georgia. There have been lots of anti-violence campaigns carried out by both local and international organizations in recent years but the problem remains unchanged. On March 10, Anti-violence Network of Georgia supported by the Estonian Institute for Open Society Research stated that “every third woman is the victim of violence in Georgia".
The research aimed at raising awareness on family violence carried out in 2010, interviewed 1252 female respondents aged 18-78 from ten different regions: 66% were from the cities and the remaining 34% from the countryside. 852 respondents considered themselves as victims of family violence, while 400 of them did not. These are mostly housewives lacking a personal income and feel fully dependent on their husbands. Such women usually become used to their conditions, they accept all the insults; hesitate from addressing others for help or calling police for assistance. Nato Shavlakadze, Chairwoman of the Anti-violence Network of Georgia, said that “just after the society started discussing the gender-based violence as the social issue more women have acknowledged their problems”.
The situation is at its worst in Kakheti where women need great social support, than comes Shida Kartli, Mtskheta-Mtianeti and Samtskhe-Javakheti followed by Kvemo Kartli, Racha, Imeerti and Adjara. The situation is somewhat low in Tbilisi where only 30-50% of 100 respondents have faced family violence. In an interview to radio Tavisipleba (Freedom) Nodar Saakashvili the Chairman of the Patrol Police Faculty of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia (MIA) said that “police are eligible to identify victims on the spot and provide them with all kinds of social and legal assistance” and welcomed that “trust towards police is constantly increasing”.
It was in 2008 when the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Georgia with the support of the Royal Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway launched National Research on Domestic Violence against Women. The survey collected the representative data at the national level from approximately 3 000 women on the prevalence and perceptions on Gender Based Violence (GBV), causes and consequences of GBV, the extent to which intimate partner violence is associated with a range of health, educational, legal and administrative outcomes, the effect of internal displacement on GBV, the strategies and services that women use to deal with violence and other relevant information. The survey findings were later used as a baseline for formulating informed national policies and plans as well as for advocacy and public awareness-raising campaigns on domestic violence and women's rights in Georgia.
Trying to overcome the violence and share their feelings to others, women have become more aware of their innocence for violations from their families. Various forms of violence (physical, sexual, psychological, etc) are tightly connected to the educational background of women. According to information provided by UNFPA the lower the general knowledge of women, the more they become victims of family violence. “Family violence is violation of women's rights and affects their physical and psychological state. Violence is the negative social trend with a serious impact on the social welfare, children and the state,” UNFPA survey stated.
Georgia adopted the law on Elimination of Domestic Violence, Protection and Support to Victims in Georgia in 2006. In December 2008, the Presidential Decree established the advisory and coordination body on Domestic Violence (DV) entitled the State Inter-agency Council to support and strengthen the implementation of the Law on DV. However, there is a lack of budgetary sources for implementation of the law and there is also quite a lot of resistance at state and regional authority level.
Deputy Chairperson of Parliament and the Chairwoman of the Parliamentary Council on Gender Equality Rusudan Kervalishvili told The Messenger earlier this month that the state policy on women's rights does not sufficiently address the issue. Stressing how many socio-economic, educational or healthcare issues both women and men face nowadays the gender-based issues remain alarming and need more attention. “That's why active participation of civil society is so important for solving these problems,” Kervalishvili stated.
Chairwoman of the Inter-Agency Council on Domestic Violence Lali Papiashvili working on the preventive mechanisms against family violence spoke about the necessity for raising public awareness to The Messenger. Introducing the medical, psychological, legal and social services the state shelters are providing to the victims of violence Papiashvili spoke of the great opportunities for women in obtaining new skills for starting new lives after rehabilitation from the terror.
“But unfortunately women don't address the police or the social agency until the violence becomes intensive, such cases often have fatal endings… Statistics have proved that children, facing the family violence receive psychological stress and become victims or violators themselves. That's why commercials or PR campaigns should obviously be addressed at reducing the violence and explaining its negative trend to public,” Papiashvili told us.
Unfortunately there are controversies around the issue in public: some talk of the gender-based violence as a social problem while others find it a more private issue. Nevertheless the researches have provided statistical information about the level of violence in Georgia and professional analysts have also shared their concerns. The conflict may refer to two particular persons while the other family members, especially the children, receive psychological trauma. In most cases violators and their victims live with violence until the end of their lives. In the 21st century of gender equality it's high time that we realized the depth of the problem and say no to violence!