The Office of the Public Defender of Georgia released today a statement to commemorate the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, stressing that “regardless of legal or institutional changes, violence against women and domestic violence remains a major challenge in Georgia”.
The International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, proclaimed by the United Nations on November 25th, marks the beginning of 16 days of action ending on December 10th, which aim to also prevent violence against women and girls and to call for global action to raise awareness, promote advocacy, and create opportunities to discuss challenges and solutions.
The Public Defender’s Office specifically noted that there were “many problems with prevention, timely detection and effective response to cases.”
They also stressed that the definition of sexual violence in Georgian legislation is not in line with international standards, especially when it comes to changing the existing definition of rape and defining free and voluntary consent as part of the definition.
Among other things, the public defender also emphasized that child marriages and engagement rates are “alarming”. Citing data from the Public Service Development Agency, the Public Defender found that 479 girls were registered as minor parents in 2020, 476 in 2021 and 189 in the first six months of 2022.
Additionally, regarding domestic violence, the Public Defender quoted the Home Office (MIA) as pointing out that in the first 9 months of 2022, relevant authorities issued 6,520 restraining orders and opened 3,064 investigations related to possible domestic violence cases Force.
“The extent of extreme forms of violence, murders and attempted murders of women is alarming and is not declining from year to year,” emphasized the public defender. According to the Public Defender, in the first 10 months of 2022, 18 cases of femicide were registered in Georgia, of which signs of domestic violence were found in 11 cases. Significantly, the attempted homicide rate is higher, with 26 of the 32 total cases attributable to domestic violence.
The Public Defender lamented that coordinated work between government agencies in cases of violence against women and domestic violence “remains a challenge,” stressing that “as a result, the government’s response to gender-based crimes is ineffective.”
“The mentioned approach significantly weakens the implementation of criminal justice policy in practice,” they added.
Regarding solutions to domestic violence, the Public Defender’s Office found that increasing women’s economic independence is “directly related” to the ability to escape a violent environment. “Long-term housing assistance, job development, job training and economic support for women are inevitably important in this process,” they added.
The Public Defender’s Office also stressed the need to conduct public awareness campaigns and to integrate the principles of equality into all types of education.
Based on his assessment of the situation in Georgia, the Public Defender recommended the following:
- Improving legislation on sexual violence in line with international standards and ensuring that the definition of sexual violence is based on the absence of the victim’s free, genuine and voluntary consent;
- Integrating gender equality issues into all types of education and planning campaigns to raise public awareness of gender equality and domestic violence;
- Approval of a national document outlining the process for identifying, protecting, assisting and rehabilitating victims of violence against women and/or domestic violence;
- Planning of suitable projects and programs to promote women’s economic self-determination.
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