Georgian President on Femicide: The Problem Comes from Society’s Mentality

Femicide is the killing of a woman or girl, in particular by a man and on account of her gender. The issue was thrown into the spotlight again this week when a man killed his wife in public, in Samtredia, western Georgia, ahead of their divorcing.

Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili released a statement on femicide, emphasizing that any kind of violence against women is unacceptable and all cases of murder “are terrifying.”

Zurabishvili pointed out that when a woman is killed because she is a woman, it is a problem within society, and that the active involvement of the state and education system in culture and civic awareness-raising is crucial.

“It is necessary to raise public awareness. Joint work and efforts from state, public, and religious organizations are important to prevent violence,” the statement reads.

Taking into account the alarming statistics and the importance of the issue, the President has called for a meeting to be held at Orbeliani Palace next week with the participation of international and non-governmental organizations who work on the prevention of violence against women.

“The meeting will discuss additional needs and possible initiatives related to this issue,” the statement reads.

Georgia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) reports that a husband was arrested in Samtredia for killing his wife this Tuesday. According to the Ministry, the man inflicted wounds on his wife, born in 1994, at the Citizens' Service Hall of the Samtredia Branch of the Civil Registry Agency, prior to the commencement of divorce proceedings. The wounded woman died on the scene.

Law enforcers arrested the man, born in 1992, shortly after the incident at the Service Hall, and seized the murder weapon, a knife.

“Investigation is underway of a fact of premeditated murder of a family member in aggravated circumstances, under Article 11 of the Criminal Code of Georgia and Article 109 (2). The crime envisages from 13 to 17 years in prison,” the MIA announced.

Public Defender of Georgia Nino Lomjaria condemned the incident, saying women need to feel that there exist such institutions in the country where they can get help. According to her, much work is needed not only in law enforcement agencies but in the education sector too.

“The mentality of society must change. Attitudes towards women are stereotypical and discriminatory. It is very important to empower women victims of violence. When a woman has no independent income, she endures violence. Even in the case of publicly speaking about violence, they do not have the opportunity to live independently from the abuser,” Lomjaria stressed.

The Ombudsman says that in the first months of 2020 alone, three women were killed in domestic violence and three were victims of attempted murder.

“The fragmented efforts made by the state to prevent violence against women are not enough! There is also much to be done in terms of education, changing societal stereotypes, victim support and economic empowerment, and gender-sensitive approaches when reporting femicide cases,” Lomjaria’s Facebook post reads.

In December 2019, Lomjaria reported at the Conference on the Prevention and Monitoring of Femicide held in Tbilisi that 151 femicide cases had been reported in Georgia in the preceding six years.

Lomjaria said that according to the Prosecutor's Office, 135 killings of women were reported in 2014-2018. Of these, three victims were led to suicide, while 64 showed signs of domestic abuse. Other motives were identified in 71 cases. In the same years, there were 69 attempted murders of women, of which five of the victims were led to attempt suicide and 46 contained signs of domestic abuse. Other motives were identified in 23 cases.

Also, according to the Ombudsman, the first 10 months of 2019 saw 16 killings of women reported, of which one of the victims was led to suicide and nine showed signs of domestic abuse. Other motives were identified in seven cases. In the same period, there were 16 attempted murders of women. Signs of domestic abuse were identified in 12 cases, while other motives were identified in the remaining four cases.

Baia Pataraia, Head of the NGO Sapari, says that the whole problem regarding violence against women is in the mentality of Georgian society.

“We have a huge problem with our mentality. Women are still not considered full-fledged members of society…Nothing will change while women are not recognized as fully independent persons who can be strong, who can lead the country, who deserve their own money, whose salary is not 36% less than men’s, who can have a free sex life and who can freely choose to end their marriages,” Pataraia stressed.

She added that if society does not make changes to its mentality to place women equal with men, the “current attitude towards women will continue.”

MIA statistics read that 10,266 restraining orders were issued to protect victims from domestic violence last year, which is 34% more than in 2018. The ministry says the order was violated by 376 individuals, which is a decrease compared to the previous year. It further reports that the number of people convicted for driving a family member to suicide has increased. In total, 4564 persons were charged with domestic violence and domestic crimes in Georgia last year.

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20 February 2020 18:48