Statement on International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women
The 16-day campaign against gender-based violence has been celebrated worldwide since 1991, begining on November 25 - International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and ending on December 10 - International Human Rights Day. The campaign aims to raise public awareness of the challenges and problems facing the country in terms of violence against women.
Georgia joins the global campaign every year and focuses on establishing zero tolerance for violence against women and girls. The main theme of this year’s 16-day campaign against gender-based violence is sexual harassment. This year has been important in terms of legislative regulation of sexual harassment and development of appropriate practices.
As a result of recent years’ active discussions about sexual harassment - one of the forms of violence against women, the above was defined as one of the forms of discrimination and was banned at the legislative level on February 19, 2019. At the same time, according to the amendments made on May 3, sexual harassment in public space was defined as an offence and the relevant mandate was granted to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia. The law defines sexual harassment as an unwelcome physical, verbal, or non-verbal act of sexual nature aimed at either degrading a person or creating a hostile environment.
After certain women started to publicly speak about their stories and to use legal remedies several years ago, part of the public began to actively discuss the problem of sexual harassment. At that time, in the absence of relevant legal regulation, the court and the Public Defender identified a number of cases of sexual harassment on the basis of interpreting certain norms of the national law or by the help of international standards.
It should be noted that after the start of active discussions about sexual harassment and its legislative regulation, the number of applications to the Public Defender has been increased to some extent, which allowed us to develop legal standards and indicators of sexual harassment.
According to the Public Defender’s practice, sexual harassment is one of the most covert forms of violence against women, with the most likely occurrence in the workplace. As a rule, victimized women seek legal remedies only after quitting. It is important to note that, along with the legal context, cases of sexual harassment are accompanied by psychosocial aspects, which substantially conditions the victims’ behavior after the incident, their vulnerability and decisions on legal response.
The Public Defender of Georgia continues to combat violence against women and calls on the state authorities to make every effort to prevent and eliminate violence against women and domestic violence.