Gabitha Dorcas

About Gabitha Dorcas

Intern at Anti-Violence Network Georgia, student at University of Lund

White Ribbon Campaign

November 25:th was the kick-off for the 16 day long campaign of activities to stop the domestic violence around the world, also called the “White Ribbon Campaign”. Here in Tbilisi we started out with a demonstration outside of the parliament building, and there was quite a big crowd gathered in the pouring rain and chilly weather.

Mother of women killed in DV

Mother of woman killed in domestic violence

Before the manifestation started all attention was turned to a woman dressed in black, holding the portrait of her daughter in her hands. She was crying and screaming, pouring out all her sorrow, pain and anger towards all the injustice experienced. Her daughter was one of all the women killed in

Leaving impressions

Leaving impressions

domestic violence here in Georgia, so far about 24 victims only this year. All the journalists and media was flocking around her, to capture her story. I was standing nearby, and of course, I didn´t understand one word of what she said, since I don´t speak any georgian, but that kind of feelings don´t need any interpretation, they are quite obvious.

Signing petition

Signing petition

Speaches were held by several well known profiles in Georgia, people were signing petitions and dipping their hands in finger paint to leave their hand impressions on a big white board, in solidarity with all the suffering women in this country. The handprints were dissolving slowly in the rain, but I really hope that the resolutions to stop the silence on the domestic violence in Georgia will not melt away like that. The sight of the desperately crying mother has certainly left a lasting impression on my heart.

Later that day I participated in a high level meeting arranged by the UN Women, with representatives from the georgian government present, as well as ambassadors from both the US and Swedish embassies. A lot was said about how gender equality is the number one condition to end the domestic violence, when men start to see women as equal human beings they can no longer treat them as their property. For this reason men worldwide  are also being engaged in the “He for She Campaign”, a solidarity movement to get men and boys to take responsibility to eliminate discrimination against girls and women.

White Ribbon Campaign started

White Ribbon Campaign started

The US ambassador shared some depressing statistics on domestic violence: From all the women that were killed worldwide during 2012, half of them were killed by somebody close to them. This is not acceptable, nor in Georgia or anywhere else in the world. But steps are being taken forward, to change this situation, and women will not keep quiet until they get to share the human rights that belong to all humanity.

Georgian police learns about domestic violence

Police Academy 2

Aspirants at Police Academy in Tbilisi

A few weeks ago I attended a training for police officers at the police Academy in Tbilisi, together with swedish journalist Maja Aase. The training was arranged by Anti-Violence Network of Georgia and the topic was Domestic Violence; what are the signs and how to handle it. Some twenty young men and a couple of women were listening to psychologists Manana Sologashvili and Elene Samushia as they described the different forms of domestic violence, the psychotypes of victims and perpetrators and the role of the police in DV-cases.

According to statistics, every third woman has experienced domestic violence in Georgia, and so far this year 23 women have died as a result of it. However, 78 % of the population hold the view that domestic violence is a family matter that should not be discussed publically.  Almost 30% of the abused women never apply for any kind of help due to fear or shame. The young police aspirants had a hard time to believe these facts, and some of them thought the numbers must be exaggerated. Unfortunately they are not.

Police Academy 1

Sharing experiences of our countries

One of the hardest things to understand is why the victim stays with her abuser, and that question also caused a lot of discussions among the students, who had several different suggestions . However, the women don´t always realize they are victims. Usually it starts with psychological abuse, and the victims are gradually being robbed of their self esteem and isolated from their net work. In this state it is very difficult to break up, especially if there is no support and no other place to go.

There were also a lot of different opinions on the cause of violence. According to research in Scandinavia, where I study Social Work and Social Science, violence is a reaction on feeling powerless, and to stop it we have to understand the background and reasons for violence. That was pretty much what was presented at the training, in the picture of the “Wheel of Violence” power and control was placed in the middle, as the main cause.

Police Academy 3

Discussions with chief of police

At the end of the training we were asked about the situation in Sweden on Domestic Violence. We have a population of almost 10 million people, compared to Georgia´s 4,5 million. In average there are 30 000 reports on violence against women every year, 45% of these are carried out within the seclusion of the home, by a person close to the woman. About 17 cases each year have a deadly outcome, so there is a lot to be done on this matter in our country as well, which surprised the georgian police aspirants. Let´s combine our strengths and experiences and work on this together, so women can feel safe in their homes everywhere.

Gabriella Erixon, student of Social Work and Social Science at the University of Lund, Sweden and intern at the Anti- Violence Network of Georgia

End the Silence on Domestic Violence

 

The sun is shining from a clear blue sky over my new, beautiful hometown Tbilisi, and I can see green palm trees through the open window in my office. It´s the end of October and I know from the news I watch every morning that Sweden is cold, rainy and grey as usual this time of the year, so I have no home-sickness what so ever. I have spent almost two months in this fascinating country of Georgia, and I feel very fortunate for having this opportunity to get to know a part of Caucasus.

Working with Nia

Working with Nia, the Project assistant at AVNG

My name is Gabi, and I study Social work and Social Science at the university of Lund in Sweden. Right now I am doing my Internship at the Anti-Violence Network of Georgia, an NGO that has been working mainly against Domestic Violence since 2003. There is a lot to be done on women´s issues and women´s rights, in a patriarchal society structure many women are still regarded as property, and when a man is abusing his wife it is considered a “family issue” that authorities shouldn´t interfere with. Domestic Violence was criminalized by law in 2012 in Georgia, but still the problems remain since the law is not implemented properly.

Demonstration

Women have been shoved into the kitchen, but we will not be silenced!

As a reaction on the killing of a university lecturer by her former husband last weekend, a spontaneous manifestation was called for over Facebook, and tuesday at lunchtime more than a hundred women – and quite a few men as well – gathered outside a governmental building close to Liberty Square in Tbilisi to protest. The people that gathered brought kitchen utensils, and with blindfolded eyes and covered mouths they started pounding on pots and pans. The message was: The women have been shoved into the kitchens, but you cannot silence us! Nobody was giving a speech, nothing was said in words but the action spoke for itself.

Tamara demontrates

Tamara would like the female politicians in the parliament to stand up for the georgian women.

A young student I was talking to there, Tamara, said that she was disappointed that none of the few women in the government had stood up and condemned this latest act of domestic violence. On the contrary, the female minister of justice said in a statement that “the crime rate in Georgia has not increased, it´s only men´s violence against women that has increased”. She might not have thought this comment through properly, since it came across like men´s violence against women is not a crime, and a lot of people were upset by this statement.

Pots and pans

Ending the silence with pots and pans, together with my collegue Salome

Since this was first written, the minister of justice has made a new statement, saying that the amendments in the law will not be enough to adequately address the problem, as mentalities towards women also need to change. I believe she is abolutely right,  a change of attitudes is really needed in many different levels, to improve the women´s situation here. I am grateful for this chance to be a part of the work AVNG is doing in Georgia for a period of time.