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.
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.
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.
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.
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.