The Public Defender’s Office of Georgia released a statement today commemorating the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, which emphasized that “regardless of legislative or institutional changes, violence against women and domestic violence in Georgia remains a significant challenge.”
The International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, which was designated on 25 November by the United Nations, marks the start of 16 days of activism ending on 10 December, the goal being to prevent and eliminate violence against women and girls, as well as to call for global action to increase awareness, promote advocacy, and create opportunities to discuss challenges and solutions.
The Public Defender’s Office noted in particular, that there are “many problems in the prevention, timely detection, and effective response to cases.”
They also underscored that when it comes to Georgian legislation, the definition of sexual violence is not aligned with international standards, particularly when it comes to changing the existing definition of rape and defining free and voluntary consent as part of the definition.
Among other issues, the Public Defender also stressed that child marriage and engagement rates are “alarming.” Citing data from the Public Service Development Agency, the Public Defender noted that 479 girls were registered as underage parents in 2020, 476 in 2021, and 189 in the first six months of 2022.
Furthermore, when it comes to domestic violence, the Public Defender cited the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) and denoted that in the first 9 months of 2022, the relevant authorities issued 6,520 restraining orders and launched 3,064 investigations in relation to possible cases of domestic violence.
“The scale of extreme forms of violence, murders, and attempted murders of women is alarming and is not characterized by a decreasing trend from year to year,” the Public Defender underscored. According to the Public Defender, 18 cases of femicide were recorded in Georgia in the first 10 months of 2022, of which signs of domestic violence were identified in 11 cases. Significantly, the rate of attempted murder is higher, with 26 out of the total 32 cases related to domestic violence.
The Public Defender lamented that coordinated work between state agencies on cases of violence against women and domestic violence “remains a challenge,” emphasizing that “as a result, the state’s response to gender-based crimes is ineffective.”
“The mentioned approach significantly weakens the implementation of criminal law policy in practice,” they added.
Addressing solutions to domestic violence, the Public Defender’s Office noted that increasing the economic independence of women is “directly related” to the possibility of escaping a violent environment. “Long-term housing support, development of opportunities for employment, vocational training, and economic support for women are inevitably important in this process,” they added.
The Public Defender’s Office also highlighted the necessity of conducting public awareness campaigns and integrating the principles of equality in all types of education.
On the basis of its assessment of the situation in Georgia, the Public Defender recommended the following:
- Improving the legislation on sexual violence in accordance with international standards, and ensuring that the definition of sexual violence is based on the absence of free, genuine, and voluntary consent of the victim;
- Integrating gender equality issues into all types of education and planning campaigns to raise public awareness of gender equality and domestic violence;
- Approving a national document outlining the procedure for identifying, protecting, assisting, and rehabilitating victims of violence against women and/or domestic violence;
- Planning appropriate projects and programs to promote women’s economic empowerment.