The Red Line
Sexual Violence in Georgia
Sexual violence is a widely spread way of violence in Georgia and worldwide. It’s also the most unrecorded and the easiest violent crime to get away with, partly, because of insufficient regulations and policies and partly women, who misbelieve the system and prefer not to speak up for their rights.
'Alone with Your Pain'
Human rights’ lawyer Mari Kurtanidze, 27 is a women’s rights activist in Georgia. She has been sexually harassed in the past. For years she was not able to express herself about the painful experience. It took years to understand what happened to her. According to Kurtanidze, the biggest problem is being silent about the problem. She says society is not able to openly talk about the violence and harassment of women and girls. Kurtanidze believes, this is partly explained by prevailed traditional views, that lead to the inequality and violence against women.
Do Laws Guarantee Equal Protection?
In Georgia the actions against harassment and violence started in 2006 by the adoption of the law on the Elimination of Violence against Women and/or Domestic Violence, Protection and Support of Victims. But the adoption of the law didn’t improve the existed situation as, along with the violence, women experience sexual harassment.
In May 2019, Parliament passed the bill introducing amendments to several laws, including the Labour Code that is outlawing sexual harassment.
The law defines sexual harassment for the first time in Georgia’s legal system in a following way:
“The act of harassment of a person aimed at or resulting in creating an intimidating, hostile, humiliating, degrading, or abusive environment for that person, or creating the circumstances for a person directly or indirectly causing their condition to deteriorate”.
Local rights groups addressed the new law as a victory for women’s rights.
According to to the given interview to the GlobalCitizen.com Marietta Akhvlediani, representative of the Public Defender’s Office of Georgia:
Tamar Dekanosidze from International women’s rights group Equality Now, confirms importance of adopting the legislation in the same publication:
According to Ana Abashidze chairman and senior lawyer at NGO PHR- Human Rights:
Besides this progress regarding the legislation changes towards the sexual harassment, definitions of sexual violence’s other crimes and sentences are not compliant with international human rights standards.
According to the groundbreaking report published by Equality Now in 2019, rape and sexual assault related laws and practices of the 15 countries of the former Soviet Union including Georgia effectively deny access to justice for survivors of sexual violence. This is because the legal system provides a number of opportunities for perpetrators to escape criminal liability or punishment, including through the way how sexual violence crimes are defined.
In the Cobweb
Often is hard to imagine how damaging and serious psychological effects sexual harassment can have. Imagine been stalked by some creep, followed by and touched inappropriately and it is mildest case of sexual harassment experienced by most of the women worldwide especially among patriarchal societies. Metaphorically it feels like to be stuck in the spider’s cobweb and not be able to get yourself free.
Mariam Kaviladze, 22, who dares to talk openly about her painful experience, uses cobweb as a symbol of the trap, vicious never-ending circle of violence and related psychological trauma. She says she has gone through different types of violence by her intimate partner.
Sexual Harassment and violence lead to psychological stress and disease. These impacts are one of the ways that girls and women go through. Numbers of studies observe the impacts and the empirical literature on the psychological impact of sexual assault on women and children is reviewed. According to WHO report on sexual violence, as there is no typical victim, there is no typical reaction to the experience of sexual violence and psychological effects vary considerably from person to person. However, sexual abuse should be suspected in individuals who present, particularly repeatedly, with the following health problems:
● post-traumatic stress disorder
● social phobias
● increased substance use or abuse
Beyond the Red Line
According to the research of the National Study on Violence against Women in Georgia (2017), 26% of women experienced sexual violence or harassment by a non-partner, including being sexually abused as a child. Accordingly, 2.7% of women aged 15-64 reported experiencing sexual violence by someone other than a husband or partner in their lifetime.
Project by Mariam Grigoryan, Sandro Kharazashvili, Ismi Shahzade, Musa Huseynli