Women's Rights in the Republic of Georgia
The Republic of Georgia is a country of 3.5 million people, located in the South Caucasus on the western shore of the Black Sea. The Georgian government has acknowledged that domestic violence is a widespread problem and is taking measures to improve the situation. As well, women’s NGOs in Georgia are actively involved in pursuing gender equality and in working to implement provisions on violence against women. The Advocates has had a long and productive partnership with domestic violence activists in Georgia to further these goals.
In 2005, The Advocates hosted 11 legal professionals to support the development of a domestic violence law. The visit included training on the dynamics of domestic violence, opportunities to observe Minnesota domestic violence hearings in court, visits to shelters, and the Hennepin County Domestic Abuse Service Center. Members of the legal community and the domestic violence advocacy community also spoke to the Georgians about their decades of experience with domestic violence legal reform. Georgia’s new law, The Law of Georgia on Elimination of Domestic Violence, Protection of and Support to Its Victims, came into effect on June 9, 2006.
In 2007, The Advocates for Human Rights and the Institute for Policy Studies in Georgia conducted a fact-finding mission at the request of the United Nations Country Team in Georgia. In May of 2007, Domestic Violence and Child Abuse in Georgia: An Assessment of Current Standings of Law and Practice Regarding Domestic Violence and Child Abuse in Georgia, and Recommendations for Future United Nations Country Team Involvement was published.
The authors of the assessment evaluated current research and conducted numerous interviews with law enforcement professionals, social and medical service providers and legislators in order to assess the problems of domestic abuse and child abuse in Georgia and the response of governmental agencies, international institutions and social service agencies to these complex issues.
The authors also made recommendations to the UN Country Team to support Georgia’s government institutions, social service organizations and advocacy organizations as they meet the challenges of implementing the new law. Commentary on the new law was included in the assessment. The UN Country Team has published the assessment in both English and Georgian, and has presented it to relevant government and social service agencies. The UN Country Team is also developing a project proposal to implement the findings and recommendations of the assessment.
At the invitation of the non-profit group, the Anti-Violence Network of Georgia, The Advocates for Human Rights sent a team to Tbilisi, Georgia in October, 2007, to train judges, prosecutors and police on best practices for implementation of the new domestic violence law. Traveling to Georgia were Cheryl Thomas, Director of the Women’s Program, Judge (Ret.) Mary Louise Klas, Judge Kathryn Quaintance and Loretta Frederick, Legal Counsel for the Battered Women’s Justice Project. The Advocates for Human Rights Executive Director Robin Phillips joined the team in Georgia after her visit to the Liberian refugee camps in Ghana.
The Advocates presented three 2-day trainings to a total of 70 police officers, prosecutors and civil and criminal court judges. The following topics were discussed: model police, prosecutor and judicial response to domestic violence; coordinated community response; evaluating evidence in domestic violence protective order applications; risk evaluation; custody issues; and strangulation in domestic violence cases. Participants also discussed their experience to date with the implementation of the new law. Police reported that almost 400 restrictive orders (similar to a protective order) had been issued under the new law over the past year.
The Advocates has been invited to return to Georgia in the fall of 2009 to train domestic violence service professionals on shelter best practices and advocacy techniques.
For more information on Georgia, visit the country page on www.stopvaw.org, written in consultation with our partner, the Anti-Violence Network of Georgia.
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