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

Aid meant for victims of domestic violence goes to the perpetrator

The Albanian team of Kvinna till Kvinna is going through final narrative reports of partner organizations. One of our partners in Vlora, Vatra, is highlighting a decision of the Council of Ministers regarding economic aid to victims of domestic violence, which is very problematic. Please have a look at the decision:

“By Decision of the Council of Ministers, in 2012 the economic aid scheme was expanded by including in it even the victims of domestic violence. In the framework of this decision, victims of domestic violence can benefit the economic aid during the period of validity of the Protection Order or Immediate Protection Order. Victims of violence receive this payment from the Office of Economic Aid and Social Services at the Municipality.”

Approval of the decision was a very positive step for the assistance of victims of domestic violence, but on the other hand, what remains as a problem in the city of Vlora is the fact that this payment is made only to victims with Protection Order who have been living in Vlore not less than 20 years. The rest is excluded from the benefit of such payment.

Continue reading

Barbed wire, beach and new roads…

So I am just having a small break in Zugdidi, Georgia after a very interesting week of meetings here in Zugdidi and the breakaway region Abkhazia.

The contrasts are many; first thing I noticed was hundreds of meters of new barbed wire, fences and a longer and more complicated procedure to enter the breakaway region Abkhazia. The Russian military is now controlling enter and exit of the breakaway region Abkhazia, and as I heard today some Russian military officers are telling local people, living in Eastern Abkhazia, that they need an Abkhaz passport to enter – however far from all inhabitants of Eastern Abkhazia have an Abkhaz passport – it is a long and complicated bureaucratic procedure to get one. Many of the inhabitants of Eastern Abkhazia depend on Georgia for health care and medical service.  From barbed wire to the stunning beauty of nature – the black sea and the mountains while travelling to Gagra.

All women I have spoken to during my intense trip, on the Georgian as well as the Abkhaz side, ethnic Georgian as well as ethnic Abkhaz women, witness that women during the conflict got a new role – as breadwinners of the family and that they also were caring so much for the wellbeing and health of their families – that women simply forgot about themselves. Women might have been in need of health care and medical service – however they didn’t prioritize themselves – which resulted in poor health status of women. Moreover as a consequence of the conflict domestic violence has increased.  In Abkhazia there are no mechanisms protecting women subjected to violence, and it seems like our partner organisations are alone in talking about domestic violence. Our partner organisations are working on increasing the awareness of domestic violence and its consequences and trying to prevent that gender stereotypes  hindering women’s equal participation in private and public life are maintained. A very important and hard work in the conflict affected communities.

Aneta, Maia and Nani, Avangard, at ther portable ultra sound which they bring to villages all over Eastern Abkhazia where women have little or no access to health care.

Better late than never – people living in Gali has been waiting for the road to be fixed for about 20 years now. Today was a historical moment when the road in front of Avangard’s office was fixed.