Since the tragic case at Ilia State University last week, there has been a lot of talk in media about domestic violence in Georgia. There are promises of new laws, of changing perceptions and attitudes. It is good, that the topic is discussed and thought of. What is on my mind, however, is what it will take for things to actually change, for this kind of violence to decrease.
Georgians are made of tradition. It is in their blood, their skin and breath. And this tradition says clearly: a man is always two steps higher than a woman. This is known and accepted by both men and women. It is considered normal that a woman has to be obedient to her husband, regardless of her own opinions, wants and needs.
According to a 2010 report on gender based violence in Georgia, about one in eleven women experience domestic violence in some form. The same research showed that about 80 % of women think that domestic violence is a matter that should not be discussed outside of family. As it is considered strictly a family matter, the real number of women enduring physical or mental abuse is probably larger.
Another reason why women might not want the abuse to become known publicly is the social stigma around divorced and single women. They see living with a violent man far better than being alone. It is understandable, as men are also the main source of a family´s income and the family usually lives in the house belonging to the man. It may be very difficult for the divorcee finding a job or a place to live in, as in the eyes of the society, she is the one who has done wrong.
What I find contradictory here, is the fact that according to a UNICEF report on violence against children, women are more likely than men to see violence as an appropriate way to punish children. Physical punishment is used quite frequently in Georgia and it is considered to be more effective than non-violent parenting.
These “appropriately” raised children grow up believing that physical punishment is the best way to teach a lesson. They are taught to hit back and moreover, to hit in response to anything they don´t like. This is especially the case with boys, who are supposed to grow up to be strong and powerful. So they in turn will show their strength and power on their own children and their own wives.
This is a clear example of how nothing comes out of violence, but violence. A closed circle, that shows no signs of breaking – a tradition.
Talvike Mändla is an Estonian graduate with a degree in Special Education. She is currently volunteering on a one-year placement in Zugdidi, Georgia. You can read more of here work on her blog.