Public Defender’s Statement on International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women
November 25 is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, which aims to raise public awareness, recognize current challenges and outline future strategies to combat violence. In addition, this day marks the beginning of the 16-day global activism against gender-based violence.
Regardless of legislative and institutional changes, violence against women and domestic violence remain important challenges in Georgia. There are still many problems in terms of prevention, timely detection and effective response to the cases.
At the level of legislation, it remains problematic to bring the definition of sexual abuse in line with international standards, in particular, to change the existing definition of rape and to determine the component of free and voluntary consent. The rates of child marriage and engagement are alarming. According to the statistics produced by the Service Development Agency, 479 girls were registered as underage parents in 2020, 476 in 2021 and 189 in 6 months of 2022.
The high rate of domestic violence and the lack of prevention measures remain important challenges. According to the 9-month data of 2022 of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia, 6,520 restraining orders were issued in relation to alleged domestic violence, while investigations were launched into 3,064 cases. The scale of extreme forms of violence, murders and attempted murders of women is alarming, which is not characterized by a decreasing trend from year to year. According to the official statistical data available to the Public Defender, 18 cases of murder of women were reported in Georgia in the 10 months of 2022, of which the elements of domestic crime were identified in 11 cases. The rate of attempted murder is much higher, where 26 out of 32 cases contained the elements of domestic crime.
Agreed and coordinated efforts among state agencies relating to the cases of violence against women and domestic violence remains a challenge. 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.
Increased economic independence of women is directly related to their ability to leave a violent environment. Long-term housing support, development of opportunities for employment and vocational training, and economic support of women are inevitably important in this process. In addition, it is necessary to conduct public awareness campaigns and integrate the principles of equality into all types of education, which will further guarantee substantial equality.
Accordingly, the Public Defender of Georgia calls on the Parliament of Georgia, as well as the central and local authorities, to prioritize the implementation of the following measures:
- Improve sexual abuse legislation and ensure that, in accordance with international standards, the definition of sexual abuse is based on the absence of free, genuine and voluntary consent of the victim;
- Integrate gender equality issues into all types of education and plan awareness raising campaigns in order to raise public awareness of gender equality and domestic violence;
- Approve the document of national referral procedures for the identification, protection, assistance and rehabilitation of victims of violence against women and/or domestic violence;
- Plan appropriate projects and programmes to promote women's economic empowerment.