Law
"ZERO Tolerance is needed to combat domestic violence in Georgia"
10 July, 2014
 "ZERO Tolerance is needed to combat domestic violence in Georgia"
The facts of domestic violence are increasing. However, this is also due the fact that the media coverage is increasingly covering these matters.
The positive story out of it is that there is much more control from the side of the NGOs, international organizations and much more media coverage. Georgian Journal talked with Erika Kvapilova, Country Director of UN Women.


G.J: Georgian society seems quite indifferent towards the subject of domestic and gender based violence. It was” proved” by the
staged video where there was a quarrel between a couple and a man beats a woman. Hardly anybody helped the latter. What can it be attributed to? Please, give us an expert’s view about it – what are its main factors – national, social, etc.


E.K.: I would not be that pessimistic. The attitudes of people in Georgia towards violence in family have been, in fact, changing. A comparison in public perceptions of domestic violence in 2009 and in 2014 studies show that less and less people regard domestic violence as a private matter, and more and more perceive it as a crime that has to be properly investigated and punished. There have been several positive changes in laws in recent years, which help changing public views on domestic violence as a private matter. What needs to be yet improved is cooperation between the public and relevant parts of the system, such as the police, social and health care workers, in detecting the cases of domestic violence, in order to protect victims and persecute and punish perpetrators. Also investing in prevention, especially in general education and awareness rising of human rights and violations, deserves more attention. To put it simply – what is needed is zero tolerance to violence, especially to violence against women and girls, who are victims in disproportionate numbers of cases.

G.J: Psychologists name unemployment as one of the factors of the men’s severe attitude towards their wised. However, this is not the problem that emerged yesterday – unemployment is the problem present since 1990. In your opinion, what can be the probable causes of increasing the aggression level of husbands towards their wives, including pregnant ones?

E.K.: The evidence supported by numerous studies confirms that dramatic social changes in the 90s, when men who were perceived as breadwinners had massively lost their jobs, had negative implications on many families: increased number of divorced couples, increased alcoholism and drug abuse, decreased economic status and poverty. Georgia also experienced conflicts, which have changed many people’s lives. Yet, to make a simple link between men’s unemployment and increased violence against women would be misleading. Violence against women takes place also in well-off families. The problem is more complex and it begins with low and unequal respect for women, who are seen by some as inferior to men and destined to serve them. The primary cause of violence lies in the urge to control and dominate and gender inequality represents fertile soil for such oppressive practices as society perceives men to be superior. Until this attitude changes and until we have full gender equality, we may still, unfortunately, witness cases of brutal violence against women.

G.J: Where the solution to the problem is and what can we consider from the international experience?

E.K.: Again, simple solutions do not exist. Yet, international experience shows that if zero tolerance towards violence against women and girls is a top priority for governments, relevant laws and implementation mechanisms are in place and working, human rights are part of general education system, then the public attitudes and tolerance to violence is changing too. It goes without saying, that media and the way they report on cases of domestic violence and violence against women and girls is of tremendous importance and may significantly contribute to positive change in this area.

G.J: How are all these aforementioned linked with the level of gender balance in Georgia?

E.K.: According to different indices Georgia’s position compared to other countries in terms of gender equality is not extremely favorable; for example the 2013 World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Index places Georgia on the 86 position out of 136 countries and the latest UN Gender Equality Index lists the country on 72 place out of 195 countries. These complex measures show positions of women relative to men and among the countries in respect to their economic status, educational attainment, health, political participation and other similar dimensions. Countries ranking high in gender equality indices are those, where violence against women and girls is politically unacceptable and where discussions if domestic violence is or is not a private business, are matter of past history. So, yes, de facto gender equality or lack of it has implications on how violence against women and girls and domestic violence are perceived and dealt with.

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