Today, on Blog Action Day CEN blogger Mercè Girbau talks about the inequality of women in Georgia and why their voice is important.
Women in Georgia are often put in the background by firmly established gender roles and a largely patriarchal culture. Being a woman in Georgia presents more daily obstacles in life than for most men. Yet women are still considered second across the country. That’s the reason why I think, today, on the blog action day it is necessary to talk about the ‘voice’ of Georgian women.
In most of the cases women in Georgia suffer from a lack of support from many institutions. This support sometimes even fails to exist when women are victims of domestic violence. In some cases the woman is alone in front of the problem because it is still perceived that these issues should be remaining privately.
In the case that the woman feel brave enough to talk about these issues with her family, she will not get their support easily. In this society it is often not ‘right’ for a woman to seek divorce as an option as families try by all means not to lose their reputation by convincing the victim that the situation is not a big deal.
The lack of support when it comes to domestic violence also comes from judicial and police institutions, in most cases there is no effective action plan against domestic violence cases. As well as this the staff in these areas are often insensitive and undertrained, meaning some don’t know how to deal with the victims.
In some cases women have to be in a shelter for some time to be protected from their abusers because they don’t respect the restraining orders. This creates an uncomfortable and anguishing situation for the victim, especially if they have children.
Georgia lacks viable long-term solutions for domestic violence victims to leave their abusers, such as access to adequate housing and financial independence. In most of the cases the family home is owned by the husband or his family, so the woman does not have rights to the property. That means that if the victim has not any other support or resources will have to move back with the abusive family members due to a lack of other options.
All these giant steps that the victim has to take, often without family support, becomes a steeplechase. In many cases the victims endure a state of constant abuse for the rest of their lives, or until the abuser decides to kill the victim. This is the reason why the femicide victims in Georgia are that high, due to the non-existence of prevention process, or not effective enough.
Another big issue in Georgian society is the rape, which is still consider as a taboo topic. Often victims don’t report it because of social stigma or because the police don’t always investigate the charges due to lack of sufficient resources to prove the guilt of the perpetrators. A large problem of this being that spousal rape is not specifically addressed by Georgian laws and many wives are victims of that.
A phenomenon that has been slowly eradicating, but still it is happening, especially in rural areas of the country is the bride-kidnapping, where women are kidnapped for the purpose of marriage. After the woman has been taken against her will and often sexually assaulted it is considered shameful if she does not marry her captor because of the suspicion of lost virginity. In many cases the victim’s own family will even push her to marry her captor and negotiate a forced marriage.
It is important that these issues of inequality are discussed. It is important therefore that women in Georgia have a ‘voice’, a shared and united movement designed to raise awareness of the problems facing this group. Without recognition and discussion of our problems they will never be solved.
Today, on Blog Action Day, as well as on every other day, it is important to support and increase the voice of women in your local community.
Mercè Girbau is a Georgia-based blogger for the CEN Network. She is an international volunteer at the Women’s Information Centre (Tbilisi) who was born in Barcelona. She has a strong interest in women’s rights and the struggle for female equality and hopes to address these topics in her future blogs.