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

Not just another week

Yanar Mohammed and Eva Abu Halaweh

Women’s rights activists Yanar Mohammed (Iraq) and Eva Abu Halaweh (Jordan) visisted Sweden this week. Here discussing violence against women during a panel in the Swedish parliament. Photo: Kvinna till Kvinna/Karin Råghall

Another week at work has passed. It’s just that it was not “just another week”.

It was a week when I got to meet activists from South Sudan, Georgia, DR Congo, Liberia, Colombia, Iraq and Jordan – here in Stockholm. I guess I don’t need to say that this doesn’t happen every week.

The activists were here for different reasons. Some participated in the International Training Programme (ITP) on UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security. Others were part of a delegation of women from Jordan and Iraq who came to Sweden to exchange experiences and knowledge about how to combat violence against women.

I only met our guests shortly. But it was enough for me to start thinking about how fantastic it is to meet people from different parts of the world; who all have a vision of a world where people conceived as “women” are not seen as second class citizens.

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17 May, IDAHO – Georgian society showed its embedded ‘hospitality’ and ‘tolerance’

My colleague and I went to Rustaveli Avenue, in Tbilisi, Georgia to join a flash mob marking International Day of Homophobia and Transphobia. We went there early, we wanted to see counter-protesters who started rally early in the morning.

* Rally of Priests and the parish walking towards old Parliament building

While Nelly and I were standing in the street with lipstick and camera on witnessed an incredible hate and violence today! We saw thousands of people walking towards old parliament building, clergy, priests, the parish, ordinary people, and saw even school children brought to the venue by school mini-buses. These people were walking proudly as if they were celebrating something. They were shouting: ‘Death to faggots’, ‘We protect our children from the disease of faggots’, ‘all faggots should be killed and stoned to death’, ‘we are here to show our religion and morality’; Exactly, as if hate and violence is part of Christianity and Christian Values.

I decided to inject into the crowd of homophobes who were already having manifestation in front of the old Parliament building. I was among them hearing and watching everything that I did not want to hear. Women, men, young girls and boys, elderly people – all together were standing there with nettle and waiting for homosexuals to hit them with nettle, saying that since they are not allowed to use iron or wooden sticks they will use nettles to hit ‘faggots’.

It was a manifestation of hate, violence, aggression! It was a pure representation of general public!

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V-day; One Billion Rising in Tbilisi

One billion rising event taking place in the heart of Tbilisi at the metro station Rustaveli on V-day; arranged by Women’s Fund of Georgia and Identoba.

“Dance is dangerous, joyous, sexual, holy, disruptive, contagious, it breaks the rules.
It can happen anywhere, anytime, with anyone and everyone, and it’s free.
Dancing insists we take up space, we go there together in community.
Dance joins us and pushes us to go further and that is why it’s at the center of ONE BILLION RISING.
” – Eve Ensler

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