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Georgia marks International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women

By Levan Abramishvili
Tuesday, November 26
The world marks International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women each year on November 25 and for the next 16 days, through December 10 (Human Rights Day), the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is marked to raise public awareness and mobilize people to bring about change.

Every year, Georgia joins the global campaign to establish zero tolerance for violence against women and girls. Sexual harassment is the main topic of this year's 16-day campaign against gender-based violence.

This year has been particularly important worldwide and in Georgia, from the #MeToo campaign to the recent amendments of the Georgian legislature to regulate sexual harassment.

As a consequence of the active discussions in recent years about sexual harassment-one of the forms of violence against women and girls, the above was defined as one of the forms of discrimination and prohibited at the legislative level on February 19, 2019. The law defines sexual harassment as unwelcome physical, verbal, or non-verbal act of sexual nature aimed at either degrading a person or creating a hostile environment.

Violence against women and girls is a worldwide problem and to this day remains one of the largest human rights violations. One in three women globally continues to suffer from abuses at home or in the workplace during her lifetime. At least one out of seven women has experienced violence in Georgia.

The Public Defender of Georgia issued a special statement to mark the day. According to it, before the relevant regulations came into force, the Office had to interpret the national law and use international standards to identify cases of sexual harassment.

“After certain women started to publicly speak about their stories and to use legal remedies several years ago, part of the public began to actively discuss the problem of sexual harassment. At that time, in the absence of relevant legal regulation, the court and the Public Defender identified a number of cases of sexual harassment based on interpreting certain norms of the national law or by the help of international standards,” reads the Ombudsman’s statement.

The Public Defender also notes that after the start of active discussions about sexual harassment and its legislative regulation, the number of applications to her Office has been increased, which allowed them to develop legal standards and indicators of sexual harassment.

According to the statement and the Ombudsman’s practice, sexual harassment is one of the most covert forms of violence against women, with the most likely occur in the workplace and victimized women seek legal remedies only after quitting.

“It is important to note that, along with the legal context, cases of sexual harassment are accompanied by psychosocial aspects, which substantially conditions the victims’ behavior after the incident, their vulnerability and decisions on a legal response,” reads the statement.

The United Nations in Georgia recorded the video address calling for a firm stand on violence against women. UN in Georgia will also mark the 16 Days of Activism this year under the theme: “Every Woman has a Story!” to put the spotlight on the voices of survivors and activists.

“Gender-based violence holds back women, girls and entire societies. We as the United Nations in Georgia stand in solidarity with all victims, together with the Government, civil society organizations and everybody who works in this sphere,” said UN Resident Coordinator Sabine Machl in the video address.

On November 25, the TV tower overlooking Georgia's capital Tbilisi was illuminated in orange - the official color of the campaign to mark the launch of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence campaign.

The 16-day campaign against gender-based violence has been celebrated worldwide since 1991, beginning on November 25 - International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and ending on December 10 - International Human Rights Day.