Public Defender's Statement on Coverage of Alleged Violence Committed against M.Kh.

Gender inequality and violence against women remains a serious challenge in Georgia. Stereotypical attitudes and discriminatory practices are deeply rooted in the society, which often ends up with violation of women's fundamental rights. The rules, disguised as cultural traditions and customs, based on double moral standards (something forgiven to a man is not forgiven to a woman) and violating women's rights and freedoms, are especially dangerous. Society not only does not fight, but in most cases it even expresses sympathy for those committing violence. The proof of the abovementioned is an Imedi TV story of 26 July about alleged physical and sexual abuse committed by a husband against a young woman on the grounds that she was not a virgin.

Media outlets and their editorial policies play an important, even leading role in changing public awareness and establishing correct attitudes. They can reach every family and show them real problems, their complexity and consequences, as well as make positive contribution to the establishment of values that would condition respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Freedom of speech and expression is one of the fundamental rights, but I would like to point out that coverage of violence against women and domestic violence requires special caution in order to avoid deepening of the existent discriminatory stereotypes and practices.

According to article 10 of the Journalistic Charter, "journalists must respect private life of a person and must not interfere in it, unless there exists particular public interest." The Imedi TV story about alleged violence committed against a young woman violated the person’s right to privacy. The story included footage clearly showing the injured person’s face and state of health.

The story discussed details of the affected young woman's intimate life in such a way that it outweighed the severity of the problem of physical and sexual abuse committed against her and the needs caused by her injuries.

Therefore, I call on media sources to show utmost caution when covering facts of violence; take into account the victim's interests and injuries inflicted to them; show particular sensitivity to the facts of discrimination against women and not to contribute to deepening of discriminatory stereotypes.

I also call on the governmental agencies to make all necessary efforts to ensure adequate investigation of the above-mentioned case and to take all measures provided by the law to ensure a response to the issue, as well as protection and psycho-social rehabilitation of the victim.

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