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Coalition for Equality calls on the prosecutor’s office to immediately respond to the case of sexual harassment of Tamta Todadze

08.10.2019

 
Coalition for Equality declares solidarity with Tamta Todadze and calls on the prosecutor’s office to timely and effectively investigate the alarming fact of sexual and physical harassment of the woman. Considering the position of the alleged suspect, the Coalition calls on the government officials to be unbiased when making public statements about the case not to tolerate and justify the violence against women. 

On October 4, 2019 the Georgian media reported that the majoritarian member of the Tbilisi City Assembly from Isani district Ilia Jishkariani assaulted the staff member of his bureau Tamta Totadze and tried to rape her. Being rejected, Ilia Jishkariani tried to subjugate her and physically abused her. In her interview with media, the victim recalled that the assembly member was kicking her with feet and hands. After the woman told the harasser that she was video-recording the fact on phone, the man broke her phone. Finally, Tamta Totadze managed to escape the harasser and ran away from the office. However, she received grave injuries as a result of beating. The victim took medical expertise of her injuries, which were visible even one week later. During the assault, Ilia Jishkariani also broke other computer equipment in the office. 

The victim and her lawyer state that the investigation bodies do not adequately investigate the case. Namely, regardless the fact that the victim timely reported to the police about the incident, the bureau of the majoritarian deputy was searched only about 9 hours later after the office was cleaned. Ilia Jishkariani was also interrogated later. The prosecutor’s office has not yet granted victim status to Tamta Todadze. Without the status, the lawyers cannot have access to case files. Obviously, all these circumstances raise doubts that the prosecutor’s office, considering the context of the case, does not adequately and effectively investigate the case for the punishment of the harasser. 

Dispute over the facts of violence against women is always stigmatized in patriarchal society. Patriarchal logic usually blames the woman in similar violence cases. It is very important that Tamta Todadze publicly spoke about the facts of violence against her that serves disclosure and criticism of similar facts and encourages victims. The state of the victim woman, who is already vulnerable, is further aggravated when there is no political will to punish the harasser, when the state is inactive and indifferent to similar facts. In similar situation, it is essential to conduct effective, prompt and impartial investigation into the case. The investigation shall not raise doubts of partiality in the society. Considering the context of Tamta Todadze’s case, it is important that the justice system imposed respective responsibility on the suspected public official and not tolerated the violence. 

The high political officials shall make statements condemning the violence against women not to leave any perception that they support the alleged perpetrator or try to influence the investigation process. In this regard, the statement of the Tbilisi City Mayor Kakha Kaladze is particularly interesting, who said that he cannot believe that Ilia Jishkariani committed the offence. The public statements of other representatives of the city hall and ruling party are also alarming, who blame the victim and insult her. 

It is essential that the statements of the government officials did not have double meaning and that their position focused on clear criticism of violence and the violation.  Tolerance of the government towards the violence against women hinders prevention of similar crimes, encourages violence and undermines the idea of the just state. 

At the same time, it is important that when reporting about Tamta Todadze’s case, the journalists did not victimize her for the second time by asking her degrading and harmful questions. 

Considering the abovementioned circumstances we call on:

- the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Prosecutor’s Office to conduct all necessary investigative procedures to ensure effective, timely and independent investigation of the alleged violence against Tamta Todadze. They shall grant victim status to Tamta Todadze.

- the senior government officials to refrain from making the statements, which directly or indirectly support the person, who allegedly committed the violence against the woman.
- media sources to follow the journalistic ethic standards, to respect the interests, dignity and privacy of the victims when reporting about the cases of violence against women. They shall be aware of the problem and scope of the violence against women. 

The statement is signed by the member organizations of the Coalition for Equality:

Open Society Georgia Foundation (OSGF)
Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center (EMC)
Article 42 of the Constitution
Union Safari
Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA)
Women’s Initiatives Support Group (WISG)
Partnership for Human Rights (PHR)
Georgian Democracy Initiative (GDI)
Tolerance and Diversity Institute (TDI)
Human Rights Center (HRC) 

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