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Women – victims of violence

27.05.2020

 
Lia Khuroshvili

Growing older has one more privilege besides the years-long experience – you personally participate in the change of public opinions. These changes are later reflected in the legislative amendments too. Time also changes the views. Something was a norm in the past but now people think differently; however, it was not easy to change the opinions and not everybody is ready to accept them. One of similar changes refer to the perception about the woman’s role in the family and society. In the country, where centuries ago, a famous poet wrote in his poem “The lion's whelp is a lion, be it male or female", sometimes we witness such an attitude towards women that demonstrates that the Georgian society has not appropriately acknowledged these words. 

In the nongovernmental organization Human Rights Center I mostly assist the women with free legal aid. As victims have sequestered rights in the Georgian Criminal Procedure Code, the victims’ lawyers also have limited resources than the lawyers of the defendants; therefore, it may be said that our aid to the victims of violence is partly psychological support. 

“Say something about men’s rights too,” “where do you see violence against women in our country,” “if husband beat her that means she deserved it,” “good horse will never get a whip” – I have heard or read these phrases many times. The lawyer cannot speak about his/her beneficiary without her consent; even in case of consent, it is important to respect confidentiality. Majority of women does not want to disclose the details of their personal lives and it is absolutely obvious. However, we know how much pain they endure. 

In the past, kidnapping of a woman for the purpose of marriage was a brave action. Sometimes, kidnapped women were proud of it (maybe they were lucky with the marriage), but many of them had to endure the family and undesired husband because they could not return to the families of their parents after being kidnapped. In the past, there was an article in the Criminal Code of Georgia (1964 edition) which punished kidnapping a woman for the purpose of marriage though with minimal measures.

Nowadays we no longer have similar provision in the Criminal Code as similar action is now unlawful restriction of freedom and is punished strictly. The number of kidnapping has also reduced, but not everywhere. We often hear about similar cases happen in the villages of ethnic Azerbaijan population. Only language barrier cannot be “guilty” in it. We usually need a translator to defend the legal rights of Azerbaijani beneficiaries because, as a rule, neither the victim girls nor the defendants know the state language that creates serious problems in the proceedings. The biggest problem is the traditional perceptions about the marriage: “the parents know better than the girl whom she should marry,” “the girl does not know anything,” “the man must decide everything in the family.”

L. was 14 years old, when she was kidnapped by her relative with the support or relatives. She was taken to the farm and locked in the room, where she was sexually harassed three times; the harasser bounded her to the bed. In the morning he presented her as his wife to the family. The girl protested; she gave three testimonies to the police within one month; the father suggested to marry him but she pledged to commit a suicide if the parents forced her to marry the harasser. Afterwards, real investigation started. She no longer had the injuries and the investigation started under the Article 140 of the Criminal Code of Georgia. The defendant was sought during three years. Meanwhile the girl turned 16 and gave a testimony to the court but finally she was forced to marry the harasser. The marriage was registered in the penitentiary establishment; the relatives won the battle but I hope soon the law and women’s rights will be stronger than those people, who perceive a woman as a subject, which needs a patron who will decide how to take care of her and when throw her in the storage house as an useless subject. 

A was a school-girl; she studied well. She had a friend, who was her classmate and a relative too. One night A stayed with her friend but her father raped the girl (he was her uncle). The girl hid the truth but the violence repeated and she got pregnant. She did not know that she was pregnant. The harasser was punished but A’s future life has completely changed. 

D was a school girl too; she was with her sister and brother in the moment of kidnapping. The harasser wanted to marry her but the girl did not know him at all. D was brave enough and resisted the harasser. The criminal proceedings still go on. One of the kidnappers is still wanted. Two others are imprisoned. Hopefully, the court investigation will finish timely and fair judgment will be delivered unlike the case where 58-years-old relative harassed a 6-year-old girl, but he is left without punishment as the judge claimed he could not rely on the testimony of the six-years-old children to pass the verdict. Today the family of the girl does not know where to hide the victim, who sees the harasser every day, who is still unpunished.  

Unless we all together change the situation everywhere and for everybody, we will still have women in our society, who will see suicide as the only solution of the problem. 

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