UN Women joins forces with Council of Europe and Equality Now to improve response to sexual violence in Georgia
Date: Tuesday, December 3, 2019
Ending violence against women and girls is one of the preconditions for fulfilling the commitments under the Sustainable Development Goals. Being able to live a life free from sexual violence is a fundamental human right.
Across the globe, reporting, prosecution and conviction rates are still low for all forms of violence against women, but particularly for sexual violence, including rape. Despite the whole raft of measures taken to tackle gender-based violence in Georgia that in recent years have resulted in a dramatic increase in disclosures of violence against women, progress is substantially lagging behind with regard to sexual violence cases.
According to the UN Women/EU National Study on Violence against Women in Georgia (2017), 6 per cent of ever-partnered women aged 15-64 had experienced at least one act of physical or sexual violence, or both, by a male intimate partner in their lifetime; 3 per cent of women reported experiencing attempted rape and sexual assault by a non-partner; and 9 per cent of women have experienced sexual violence in their childhood. Despite these figures, which paint only a partial picture of the actual scale of the problem, only eight such cases made it to the courts in 2018, up from five cases in 2017.
“Women continue to bear the appalling burden of victimization by sexual violence in Georgia. When left unpunished or trivialized, it creates a pervasive culture where sexual violence is condoned, resulting in women being robbed of their fundamental rights,” notes Erika Kvapilova, UN Women Country Representative in Georgia.
UN Women, the Council of Europe and Equality Now have decided to join forces to ameliorate the response to sexual violence in Georgia primarily through the development of the Sexual Violence Investigation Manual. The manual is instrumental for improving the relevant practice and legislation related to sexual violence, ensuring de facto compliance with the standards set forth in the Istanbul Convention and the effective administration of justice.
The manual will represent an investigative methodology tool, designed primarily for practical application and implementation by investigators, prosecutors and judges in Georgia. As such, it will cover the relevant procedures starting from the reporting process through the prosecution and punishment stages for acts of sexual violence. The manual will also guide human rights lawyers representing the interests of survivors and/or undertaking strategic litigation in local, regional or international fora. Based on its compliance with international human rights standards and commonalities among States concerning sexual violence, the manual will be valuable for post Soviet countries and worldwide.
The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, and under the umbrella of the Generation Equality campaign to mark the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the UN Secretary-General’s UNiTE by 2030 to End Violence against Women campaign is calling upon people from all walks of life, across all generations, to take our boldest stand yet against rape.