Time to end violence against women and girls in Georgia

This joint statement on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women is issued by the United Nations system in Georgia, the Delegation of the European Union to Georgia, the Council of Europe Office in Georgia, the EU Monitoring Mission in Georgia and the Embassies to Georgia of Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.

On this International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, we express our support for and solidarity with women and girls who have experienced violence. We call for further resolute action to prevent and eventually eliminate violence against women and girls once and for all.

Violence against women and girls is a global scourge and, unfortunately, still one of the most serious human rights violations in Georgia and worldwide.

Georgia can rightfully claim notable progress achieved in recent years, including the adoption of comprehensive legislative framework and gender quotas, and strengthening institutions to enforce these laws, tackling some of the discriminatory social stereotypes, providing specialized services for victims/survivors and raising public awareness on the need to combat gender-based violence.

Despite these efforts, Georgian women and girls still face violence in their private and public lives due to pervasive social and economic inequality, limited political participation of women, entrenched discriminatory social norms, stigma and deeply rooted harmful stereotypes.

Sexual violence in Georgia persists, not least due to slow shifts in public attitudes. Almost one third of the Georgian population still blame women rape victims for inviting the attacks by their behavior.  This is preventing many women from seeking help. Reporting of sexual violence crimes remain extremely low.

Women and girls from vulnerable social groups, including communities affected by conflict and people with disabilities, are facing an increased risk of violence, deepened by the economic and social crisis brought on by the pandemic.

Women’s political participation and their influence on critical decision-making remain low. The latest parliamentary and local elections showed improvements in increasing women’s political representation but still left Georgia with a men-dominated political landscape.

Government authorities at all levels in Georgia need to work to uphold the rights of women and girls in all areas of their lives, and to promote women’s economic and political participation and empowerment that are key factors to preventing gender-based violence against women. Georgia needs to take concrete action to fully implement the Istanbul Convention – including the legal definition of rape – given its commitment to the Gender-Based Violence Action Coalition of Generation Equality global movement in 2021. Effectively investigating and prosecuting incidents of violence against women and girls must be given high priority by the police and judicial institutions. Prevention strategies, which address the root causes of violence against women and girls need to be stepped up, including actions that engage men and boys to challenge harmful stereotypes. We all have crucial roles to play in ending gender-based violence against women and building a future in which everyone has a real and fair chance at success, safety and well-being.

We stand ready to support the Government of Georgia, civil society and other partners in this vital work.