Gender clichés make life difficult for women in Georgia

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The results of a nation-wide study released recently by the United Nations Women Organization in Georgia revealed that out of 1,500 respondents 34.6 per cent  justify violence against women. Most shocking, however, was that  65.1 per cent of respondents were women themselves.  

Gender violence and its justification have become a popular topic of discussion for many popular TV programs.  Although Georgia has succeeded in recent years to promote gender equality through new legislation and policies, it has become obvious that the fundamental change of public perception has not been achieved.

Unfortunately, gender clichés are still strong in Georgia. Another study, conducted by the UNDP reveled that, 88 per cent of the respondents believe men are supposed to be breadwinners of their families. Additionally, while 62 per cent of women believe that women and men should make decisions together, only 37 per cent of men agree. And, not surprising, the majority of the respondents prefer to have a boy as the only child as boys are also privileged when it comes to education and property rights.

The tragic story of 27-year-old Nino is the result of society’s unhealthy attitude towards the role of women in Georgia. She was only 15 years old when she got married—not for love for her husband but instead to escape her strict mother.  After just two months into her marriage, however, she realized that she had made a huge mistake. Unfortunately it was too late. She could not go back home. Her family would not accept. Instead, she had to live with her husband and endure physical and psychological abuse.

“He was beating me for no reasons,” she remembers. “When he was watching TV me and my son had to sit still. if child would cry, he would bit us both. It was hell for both of us.”

Nino lived in these conditions for more than seven years before she left husband and went to her home, bagging her mother to take her back in.  Her mother saw Nino’s difficult situation she let her in, but she refused Nino leave the house, as she was trying to protect her family’s image from the stigma and shame that Nino’s divorce would inevitably bring.

Nino and her 8-year-old son lived her mother for one year. “Living with my mother was also very difficult,” she recalls. “I had to live with the feeling of guiltiness, because I had brought shame on my family. I was not allowed to go out or to work. My son needed lots of things, so [eventually] I began working at the grocery shop and left the house with my son.”

Nino tried to forget her past as she struggled to provide a better future for her son. She tried for the second time to arrange her private life. “I was looking for someone who would be near me, who would support me and my son,” she remembers.  Unfortunately, instead of care Nino was hurt for the second time. As soon as she got pregnant, and her partner left. 

She was in a difficult situation when she first came into contact with World Vision. “When I first saw her: she was afraid to go outside; [She] was afraid of meeting people; she thought everyone would gossip about her,” remembers Lia Chilashvili, Child Psychologist and World Vision’s Day Care Services Centre. “It has been two month already [and] as I work with, she has changed a lot. Before, she was even thinking about suicide. Now, she is more stable and thinks positively,” she adds.  

World Vision supported Nino and her new-born daughter with hygiene and food kits. “The support financial and psychological support provided to me was very important,” says Nino.  “I would say you saved my life!”  Together with her two children: 10-year-old Giorgi and 7-month-old Mariam, she lives in a rented house. Her cousin is helping her financially, but she and her children still have many needs. But, even more than tangible needs, she needs the support from people around them as Nino still worries that everybody is judging her for her mistakes.  And, she admits that at times she wonders if she did the right thing to leave her husband, even though he was beating her and her son. Georgian society seems to indicate that violent husbands are more acceptable than single moms, even when it isn’t their fault.

News Source : Gender clichés make life difficult for women in Georgia

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