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Giving Compass' Take:
• James Hitchings-Hales reports that Georgia's first march against sexual violence occurred on March 8th, breaking a long tradition of silence around sexual violence in the country.
• How can funders work to support grass-roots movements like this one?
• Learn about funding gender equality.
A feminist movement is brewing in Georgia.
The Eurasian country just saw its first-ever march against sexual violence and harassment on March 8.
The International Women’s Day demonstration broke a damaging silence on gender abuse in a country where the issue is rarely discussed, coming just after a recent change in the legal definition of sexual harassment.
It all began five years ago, when a private Facebook group was founded in response to the murder of 26 women in Georgia by men who had previously been their partners.
The group was called the Women’s Movement, and after arranging protests outside the Government of Internal Affairs and gaining media attention, it’s now grown to over 2,600 members.
It joined forces with another organisation called the Independent Group of Feminists for Friday’s march, which began with 12 women’s rights activists and 15 supporters in central Tbilisi.
The campaigners took their message to four different tube stops throughout the city. At each station, they stood quietly in a line outside, holding signs that included messages like “a short skirt doesn't stand for an invitation”; “forced marriage is a crime”; and “sex without consent is a crime.”
UN Women found that 1 in 7 women in Georgia aged 15 to 64 faced physical, sexual or emotional violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime, while 1 in 5 had experienced sexual harassment.
However, most didn’t share their experiences with anyone. Last year there were just eight successful rape convictions — and the year before that there were just five.
That’s because there’s a general passivity by state authorities to see sexual violence as a crime, according to Equality Now. The organisation says that investigations are fraught with gender stereotyping, victim blaming, and systematic discrimination. Therefore assaults aren’t reported — and even when they are, police will record it incorrectly to keep statistics low.
Read the full article about Georgia's march against sexual violence by James Hitchings-Hales at Global Citizen.