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The News in Brief

Friday, December 13
Homeless shelters created in Tbilisi

Temporary shelters for the homeless in Tbilisi opened on December 12th. The homeless shelters were created by the Georgian Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure.

The Municipal Development Fund of Georgia has installed cottages and tents for homeless individuals. There are kitchens, medical centers, and bathrooms in the cottages.

The tents are heated with wood-burning stoves and can accommodate up to 80 people at a time. The residents will be provided with beds, mattresses, blankets, and access to electricity.

The infrastructure ministry, police, and emergency services had been mobilized in erecting the homeless shelters. The defense, finance, economy and healthcare ministries and the Government Chancellery are also participating.

All charitable and non-governmental organizations, as well as private individuals, are welcome to volunteer at homeless shelters, the Infrastructure Ministry stated. (Agenda.Ge)

Parliament approves GPB Board of Trustees selection commission

The Georgian parliament unanimously approved the Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB) Board of Trustees’ selection commission. The nine members of the commission will select candidates for the GPB Board of Trustees within the next ten days.

The commission members are: journalist and chairman of the Civil Development Institute Ia Antadze; journalist Nino Bekishvili; executive director of the Civil Development Agency Zviad Devdariani; lawyer and member of the board of the Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association Natia Kapandze; executive director of the Georgian Association of Regional Broadcasters Natia Kuprashvili; chairman of the United Civil Movement Multinational Georgia Arnold Stefanyan; philosopher Zaza Shatirishvili; member of the Council of the Charter of Journalistic Ethics Zviad Koridze; and philologist Tamaz Jologua.

They must develop and define what criteria they will use when selecting trustee candidates. The candidates will be approved by the Georgian Parliament Bureau.

By the amendments made to the Law on Broadcasting in July 2013, the GPB Board of Trustees was supposed to change in 2014 but the process has begun a month earlier.

“The board of trustees will be formed one month ahead of schedule which will correct the current situation…the GPB managing body is practically paralyzed.” Chairman of Parliament David Usupashvili said.

The board of trustees selection process will be conducted in two stages – at first candidates will be selected according to their qualifications and afterwards their GPB development concept will be discussed and a public interview will be held with them.

From the candidates selected by the selection commission, two will be nominated by the Public Defender, three by Georgian Dream, three by the opposition and one by the Supreme Council of Adjara.

If Parliament does not approve of any of the nominated candidates, new candidates will be nominated within 10 days. (Media.Ge)

UNICEF report exposes weak child protection in Georgia

A study by UNICEF Georgia reveals that 2005, the Georgian government has made significant progress in reforming the child care system, but important challenges remain, such as child poverty, violence against children and weak child protection.

Currently, there are only three operational state-run child protection institutions in Georgia, compared to 41 in 2009. The number of children living in state-run institutions has been reduced from over 4600 to 109. Most have been adopted or returned to their families, as the government pays $50 per month, per child for families who take back their children, as well as health insurance and free day care.

But this, UNICEF claims, does not protect children from violence.

According to a 2013 study by UNICEF, entitled Violence against Children in Georgia, 60 percent of the population in the country believes that harsh parenting, including physical abuse and shouting, is more effective than non-violent parenting methods. However, 94 per cent of those surveyed admitted that children are hurt when they witness violence at home.

60 percent of child protection professionals – teachers, resource officers and social workers – think that a family’s internal affairs are their own business, and should not be interfered with by others.

“Violence is everywhere. It happens in all countries, at all levels of society,” Sascha Graumann, UNICEF’s representative in Georgia said.

“But too often, violence against children is invisible because it occurs within homes and families or because people turn a blind eye to it.” he said.

Children can become victims not only within their family. 46 percent of all school professionals – teachers and school resource officers – stated that violence would have to be severe and repetitive in order for it to be reported.

“In order to make this institutional mechanism work properly it is crucial that we all are active and speak out when we see violence.” Graumann said. (Democracy & Freedom Watch)

Selective abortions rife in the Caucasus and the Balkans

A French study has found heavy imbalances in the number of newborn girls and boys in the Caucasus and the western Balkans, indicating that selective abortions are common in both regions.

Often associated with China and India, sex-selective abortions have been growing in both the Caucasus and the Balkans since the early 1990s, according to the study by the National Institute for Demographic Studies (INED).

The study said the sex ratio in the South Caucasus countries of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia and in parts of the Balkans, in particular Albania, has reached between 110 to 117 boys to 100 girls.

The ratio is considered officially out of balance when 105 boys are born to every 100 girls.

"In the three Caucasus countries, the ratio increased during the 1990s and reached levels higher than current estimates for all of India." the study said.

The imbalance is highest in Azerbaijan, where it has reached 117 boys to 100 girls, making it the least balanced country after China, the report said.

In the western Balkans, including Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro, the imbalance is less emphatic, at 110-111 boys for every 100 girls.

The report said "The regularity over the years attests to the reality of the imbalance."

"The persistence of traditional patriarchal values remains at the heart of the preference for male births in these regions." the institute said.

Such attitudes had been reinforced in these regions amid the chaos and rampant poverty that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

"Family structures became the most important social institution. The recent decline in fertility and the emergence of modern health services -- occurring at the same time as a change in political and economic regimes -- have strengthened the desire for pre-natal sex selection." the report stated.

The study was unable to explain why other countries in the Balkans or the post-Soviet nations of Central Asia had not seen similar increases in birth ratio imbalances. (AFP)