Webinar on Implementation of Legal Norms Regulating Sexual Harassment

The Public Defender of Georgia participated in the Webinar on Implementation of Legal Norms Regulating Sexual Harassment: Results Achieved and Challenges on June 16, 2020.

In herwelcomespeech, the Public Defender spoke about the resultsand challenges faced bythe Officein terms of effective implementation of the norms in practice a year after sexual harassment was banned at the legislative level.

"When we started to examine cases of sexual harassment (we established discrimination in several cases), there was no relevant national legislation and we tried to examine the cases based on standards developed by international institutions.

The adoption of the law on sexual harassment in 2019 has made it possible to inform the public about the illegal nature of sexual harassment. The number of applications has increased and we have already examined 20 alleged cases. As a result, we have established sexual harassment against 11 women. It should be noted that the diversity of cases allows us to develop national standards and best practices," – said the Public Defender.

With regard to challenges, the Public Defender once again highlighted a low rate of reporting - women still have difficulties in overcoming social and psychological barriers. A serious challenge is the lack of evidence. In addition, we have observed the indifferent attitude of officials towards sexual harassment. In order to avoid sexual harassment, the Public Defender considers that all organizations should have internal prevention and complaints mechanisms.

At the end of the speech, the Public Defender noted that the Office, with the support of UN Women, is working on a document on sexual harassment, which will include international and national standards and practices. In addition, an electronic training course on sexual harassment is being updated. "Combating sexual harassment is one of our top priorities and we will continue to work actively in the future too," Nino Lomjaria said.

Adam Schmidt, Director of the USAID/GeorgiaDemocracy, Governance and Social Development Office, Nino Tsatsiashvili, Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs, and Lela Akiashvili, Advisor to the Prime Minister for Human Rights and Gender Equality, also delivered speeches at the online meeting.

During the thematic discussion, a report was read by Ketevan Shubashvili, Head of the Equality Department of the Public Defender's Office, who spoke about the lack of evidence in the process of examining cases of sexual harassment, psycho-social barriers faced by victims and other challenges. She also touched upon the trends improved after sexual harassment was banned at the legislative level.

The webinar was organized by the Parliament of Georgia and the Promoting Rule of Law in Georgia (PROLoG) programme of the East-West Management Institute and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

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