Georgian Women against Violence30.03.2012 | 16:15
"I do not know what comes easily for the women. But each of us is able to influence what happens, change the reality every day". This is the opinion of Nino Tsikhistavi - Chairman of the Board of the organization "Network of Caucasian Women" and coordinator of the NGO "The Priority of Human Rights". Nino Tsikhistavi is one of those who help women in Georgia to resist domestic violence. In an interview to our edition, she told of how they are struggling with the problem of oppression of women in the country, as well as about the victims of war in August 2008.
In 1997, I founded the "Network of Caucasian Women" along with my like-minded. In the 90s of last century, the idea of creating an organization that would deal with the protection of women's rights was very urgent. That time, non-governmental sector started developing in Georgia and we all - the enthusiasts - knew each other, we were interacting.
Your work is not confined solely to the work in the NGOs' "Network of Caucasian Women"; you are also coordinator of "The Priority of Human Rights". Tell us more about your work there.
March 8, in the International Women's Day, "Network of Caucasian Women" and "The Priority of Human Rights" filed a lawsuit to the Strasbourg court. This case is related to the rape of a woman from one of the villages in Gori district during the August war. In this case, several articles of the European Convention, as well as international law, were violated in regard of this victim. Despite the fact that at the time of the crime Georgia was not conducting control in the conflict zone, they could avoid this situation by warning and evacuation, before the start of hostilities. We've decided to pay attention to what happened and marched over Melikishvili Avenue.
The lawsuit was preceded by complex work. We were involved in the process of collecting information about what happened to the civilians of our country during the August tragedy from the first day of the arrival of refugees in Tbilisi. We've released a book "The War. The Right. The Peace", telling these horror stories.
During the war, unfortunately, there are often used such practices as humiliation, desecration of the civilian population. They offend women and children. Remember the first Georgian-Abkhazian conflict. There were many cases of rape of women and children.
Your colleague, human rights activist from Lithuania, Saul Vidriniskayte noted: "Violation of women's rights take place not only during the war. It happens in their homes". War is war, but evil happens in this country and in this city every day ...
Our statistics shows that one in four women is a victim of domestic violence. In addition, one in seven pregnant women is suffering from domestic battering. In Georgia, it remains extremely unpopular to appeal to the police in such situations. The main criticism that comes from our organization through the media and direct appeals to the appropriate state agencies, concerns to the fact that a whole chapter in the law on domestic violence, adopted in 2006, doesn't work. This chapter concerns the prevention of domestic violence. We are pleased that under the law you can call the police and to limit contact between the victim and the offender (rapist) for the time. However, it is important to make this law work.
Tell me, if the situation in this area has changed lately?
We have achieved a lot. When our organization has just started working on the problem of domestic violence, we faced with the absence of such a term in the legal lexicon. There was the notion of "family conflict". Do you know how they fought it? A police inspector came and held an explanatory conversation with the guilty, asked not to behave like a hooligan in the future. Of course, it was ineffective. We are very pleased that the situation relating to domestic violence has begun to change.
How often do women resort to help?
We do not record the number of appeals of the victims and potential victims of domestic violence, but I can say that there are many of them. They can call us and arrange an appointment, to come and get real help in form of legal advice (to learn about their rights and opportunities). Our phone number: 2-988-695; our address: Asatiani Street 10, Tbilisi, Georgia.
Interviewer Natalia Sakhno