Time to end violence against women and girls in Georgia

Published in Society
Thursday, 25 November 2021 13:23

This joint statement on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women is issued by the United Nations system in Georgia, the Delegation of the European Union to Georgia, the Council of Europe Office in Georgia, the EU Monitoring Mission in Georgiaand the Embassies to Georgia of Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.

On this International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, we express our support for and solidarity with women and girls who have experienced violence. We call for further resolute action to prevent and eventually eliminate violence against women and girls once and for all.

Violence against women and girls is a global scourge and, unfortunately, still one of the most serious human rights violations in Georgia and worldwide. 

Georgia can rightfully claim notable progress achieved in recent years, including the adoption of comprehensive legislative framework and gender quotas, and strengthening institutions to enforce these laws, tackling some of the discriminatory social stereotypes, providing specialized services for victims/survivors and raising public awareness on the need to combat gender-based violence.  

Despite these efforts, Georgian women and girls still face violence in their private and public lives due to pervasive social and economic inequality, limited political participation of women, entrenched discriminatory social norms, stigma and deeply rooted harmful stereotypes.

Sexual violence in Georgia persists, not least due to slow shifts in public attitudes. Almost one third of the Georgian population still blame women rape victims for inviting the attacks by their behavior. This is preventing many women from seeking help. Reporting of sexual violence crimes remain extremely low.

Women and girls from vulnerable social groups, including communities affected by conflict and people with disabilities, are facing an increased risk of violence, deepened by the economic and social crisis brought on by the pandemic.

Women’s political participation and their influence on critical decision-making remain low. The latest parliamentary and local elections showed improvements in increasing women’s political representation but still left Georgia with a men-dominated political landscape.

Government authorities at all levels in Georgia need to work to uphold the rights of women and girls in all areas of their lives, and to promote women’s economic and political participation and empowerment that are key factors to preventing gender-based violence against women. Georgia needs to take concrete action to fully implement the Istanbul Convention - including the legal definition of rape - given its commitment to the Gender-Based Violence Action Coalition of Generation Equality global movement in 2021. Effectively investigating and prosecuting incidents of violence against women and girls must be given high priority by the police and judicial institutions. Prevention strategies, which address the root causes of violence against women and girls need to be stepped up, including actions that engage men and boys to challenge harmful stereotypes. We all have crucial roles to play in ending gender-based violence against women and building a future in which everyone has a real and fair chance at success, safety and well-being.

We stand ready to support the Government of Georgia, civil society and other partners in this vital work.

Source: UN Georgia

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  • Xinhua Headlines: A diagnosis of America's war mania

    A paratrooper conducts security at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Aug. 29, 2021. (U.S. Army Photo by Master Sgt. Alexander Burnett/Handout via Xinhua)

    WASHINGTON/GENEVA, Dec. 8 (Xinhua) -- Open any book on American history, and hardly can you find a long period of time when the country was not part of a conflict. Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter simply referred to it as "the most warlike nation in the history of the world."

    There are historical, commercial, and geopolitical contexts behind the lust for wars, in which the United States has gained independence, interests, and influence. Over the past decades, the country has launched or engaged in wars all over the world in a never-ending endeavor to establish and retain hegemony.

    The United States, according to diagnoses of historians and scholars, has morphed into a perpetual war machine that feeds on and profits from warfare, with the mighty military-industrial complex at the helm and media complicit in justifying government policies and whitewashing its actions, leaving the war mania beyond cure.

    FEEDING ON WARS

    "Our nation was born in genocide," American civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. wrote in his 1963 book Why We Can't Wait. "We are perhaps the only nation which tried as a matter of national policy to wipe out its indigenous population."

    The United States was founded on 13 British colonies in North America where the indigenous, some of who helped the first Europeans to settle down on the continent, had lived for thousands of years. However, instead of acknowledging the rights of the Native Americans or Indians after the Revolutionary War, the federal government embarked on a century-long campaign to eliminate them.

    "We massacred them," Alfred-Maurice de Zayas, an American-Swiss historian and former United Nations independent expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, told Xinhua during an interview in Geneva, Switzerland. "We demonized the Indians. We call them devils. We call them wolves ... and it was a lot easier if you demonize your rival in order to kill them."

    In Westward Expansion under the so-called Manifest Destiny, a 19th-century doctrine that Americans were destined to expand across the continent, the United States extended its western border to the Pacific Ocean following a chain of land purchases and annexations, along with significant territorial gains after the Mexico-American War in the 1840s.

    "U.S. territorial expansion from 1789 to 1854 -- from sea to shining sea -- was the most rapid and extensive in human history," Paul Atwood, senior lecturer in American Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, contended in a 2003 article titled War is the American way of life. "It was carried out by armed violence with genocidal results."

    In the 1890s, the United States began actively pursuing overseas expansion, decades after the Civil War put America's foreign policy objectives on hold, as senior government officials came to believe that their country is entitled to compete for "naval and commercial supremacy of the Pacific Ocean and the Far East," according to the late American historian Julius Pratt, who specialized in foreign relations and imperialism.

    The United States became a Pacific power after the 1898 war with Spain, with new territorial claims stretching from the Caribbean to Southeast Asia, and was elevated to a superpower after World War II. "We tell ourselves that we have emerged from this war the most powerful nation in the world," then U.S. President Harry Truman declared in a speech from the White House on Aug. 9, 1945.

    Over the previous decades, the militarily powerful United States has intervened in or waged a succession of significant wars, including the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Gulf War, while initiating or being involved in numerous overt and covert operations.

    The global "War on Terror," which the United States launched in response to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, was extended to an astonishing number of 85 countries between 2018 and 2020, and the world's sole superpower controls about 750 bases in at least 80 countries worldwide and spends more on its armed forces than the next 10 countries combined, studies have found.

    "This state of war is the norm in U.S. history," author and professor of political anthropology David Vine concluded in his 2020 book The United States of War: A Global History of America's Endless Conflicts, from Columbus to the Islamic State.

    According to the Congressional Research Service, a public policy research institute of the U.S. Congress, American troops have staged wars, engaged in combat, or otherwise invaded foreign lands in all but less than 20 years of its existence. "The people of the United States have arguably never been at peace," commented Nikhil Pal Singh, professor of social and cultural analysis and history at New York University.

    WAR MACHINE

    "In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex," then U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower said in his farewell speech from the White House on Jan. 17, 1961. "The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist."

    Despite Eisenhower's warning, the formidable union of the military, private defense contractors, and the government has grown stronger and more entwined. Daniel Kovalik, adjunct professor of law at the University of Pittsburgh, told Xinhua during an interview via video link that the tremendous vested interest that the retired five-star Army general was talking about "was nothing compared to what it is today."

    According to Brown University data, the Pentagon has spent over 14 trillion U.S. dollars since the start of the Afghanistan War, with between one-third and half of that going to for-profit defense contractors. Meanwhile, over the last two decades, weapon manufacturers were estimated to have spent over 2.5 billion dollars on lobbying, employing hundreds of lobbyists per year.

    Furthermore, because of the revolving door, high-ranking Pentagon officials frequently leave their government jobs to work for defense contractors as lobbyists, board members, executives, or consultants.

    Kovalik said it explains why the U.S. war in Afghanistan, which ended after a hasty pullout in late August, lasted nearly 20 years.

    "Because the defense industry companies that make the bombs, that make the planes, that make the vehicles, and also the private military contractors that now are fighting the wars in lieu of public military personnel, they made trillions of dollars as long as the war continued," he expounded. "So they didn't care if the war was ever won, the goal was for the war to simply continue forever."

    De Zayas also chastised U.S. intelligence operatives and the media for spreading fabricated information and fake news to name and shame its targets and stoke public discontent before and during the intervention. National security, democracy, freedom, human rights, and humanitarianism are the themes of narratives they have sought to create and promote.

    "The idea is to anesthetize the population so that they accept regime change so that they accept a military intervention to achieve regime change," he said.

    In an article published by The Washington Post in September, Katrina vanden Heuvel, editorial director and publisher of U.S. magazine The Nation, suggested that "the military-industrial complex's sheer breadth of influence -- to the point where it might more accurately be called the military-industrial-congressional-media complex -- can make dismantling the system seem hopeless."

    DAMAGE TO WORLD

    The New York Times published in November an investigative report, disclosing that the U.S. military covered up the 2019 airstrikes that killed up to 64 women and children in Syria. The revelation came less than two months after the Pentagon acknowledged the last U.S. drone strike before American troops exited from Afghanistan mistakenly killed 10 civilians, including seven children.

    Unfortunately, such possible war crimes would likely be forgotten quickly because no one appears to be able to hold the United States accountable. When the International Criminal Court (ICC) was seeking to investigate American personnel for alleged crimes in Afghanistan years ago, the U.S. government responded by imposing sanctions on ICC officials and threatening more actions against The Hague, Netherlands-based tribunal.

    The civilian deaths, however, were only a drop in the bucket of tragic consequences from America's unchecked drone strikes in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, and Yemen, and only a speck of the human toll inflicted by Washington's addiction to violence and war in pursuit of resources, geopolitical clout, and hegemony. The post-9/11 wars alone were reported to have killed more than 900,000 people.

    Meanwhile, the "endless wars" have wreaked havoc on many countries and cities, resulting in a tangle of political, economic, and social complexities that have obstructed the rebuilding and revival of economies and civilizations. "If we can't just overthrow you, we will destroy you," Kovalik said. "That's what the U.S. has done time and again."

    When the U.S. troops fled from the Vietnam War, they left a devastated land riddled with millions of land mines and unexploded ordnances, which had also been defoliated by millions of gallons of Agent Orange, a deadly herbicide that causes cancer, neurological damage, and birth defects. Since 1975, over 40,000 Vietnamese have died from the deadly remnants of war, and over 60,000 have been injured.

    In Afghanistan, decades of war have not only shattered the country but also traumatized its people. The International Psychosocial Organisation, a non-profit agency, reported in 2019 that 70 percent of the country's population needs psychological support.

    "Numbers certainly can tell us only so much. Quickly they can become numbing. Ultimately, there's no adequate way to measure the immensity of the damage these wars have inflicted on all the people in all the countries affected," Vine, also assistant professor at American University, stressed in his book.

    "International polls showed that world opinion regarded the U.S. as the greatest threat to world peace, no other country even close," renowned American linguist and foreign policy critic Noam Chomsky said during an interview with U.S. magazine CounterPunch in August.

    What Chomsky was referring to appeared to be a global survey conducted by the World Independent Network and Gallup in 2013, in which the United States had been voted by respondents from over 60 countries as the most significant threat to world peace, and a Pew poll in 2017 that showed 39 percent of respondents across 38 countries consider American influence and power a major threat to their countries.

    "America has never cared to help those we have pretended to 'save' by these wars. For that reason alone, America has never had the broad support of local populations that would have been essential for any kind of success in these misguided wars," Jeffrey Sachs, American economist and public policy analyst, wrote in an article published by The Boston Globe in September.

    "Our nation has been at war for centuries," Sachs continued. "Will the United States adopt a new foreign policy based on peace and problem-solving? That's the real question."

  • Interview: U.S. fails to draw lesson from wars, Princeton scholar says

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    Falk had first-hand experience visiting wartime Vietnam in 1968, which led him to question the lawfulness and the legitimacy of U.S. wars abroad.

    "When I had the opportunity to visit Hanoi and meet some of the leaders there and see the effects of a high technology war machine being used against a peasant society that was trying to establish its own right of self-determination, it changed my understanding fundamentally," he recalled.

    The United States, rather than learning the lesson of the Vietnam War, has repeated the mistake time and again, according to Falk.

    "The U.S., ever since its defeat in Vietnam, despite having overwhelming military superiority, has failed to learn the basic lesson that military intervention is not an effective geopolitical tool," the renowned scholar explained, adding that the U.S. military adventures in the Middle East have further discredited "regime-changing interventions followed by prolonged occupations and state-building undertakings in the post-colonial period."

    The empirical record, Falk stressed, "suggests that excessive reliance of American foreign policy on the military instrument was a consequence of retaining a quasi-war posture ever since World War II."

    "The U.S. became a very militarized state bureaucracy with a high peacetime military budget, and this led it to consistently exaggerate security threats, coupled with the related claim that military approaches to foreign policy challenges continued to be effective," he commented.

    Despite the preaching of the virtues of a "rules-based international order" in the current U.S. administration's foreign policy prescriptions, such an affirmation "certainly doesn't seem to mean respect for international law," Falk pointed out.

    "It seems to mean that others will be held accountable if they depart from U.S. perceptions of what rules should govern," he added. "But it leaves the U.S. itself in a position of pursuing its geopolitical ambitions without any kind of visible respect for the limits set by international law or the UN (United Nations) Charter."

    By Xu Chi

  • GLOBALink | UNAIDS chief warns of millions of AIDS-related deaths if inequalities remain

    Ahead of the World AIDS Day, which falls on Wednesday, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) issued a stark warning saying that if leaders fail to tackle inequalities the world could face 7.7 million AIDS-related deaths over the next 10 years.

    We talk to Winnie Byanyima, UNAIDS executive director and an Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations on this and more.

    Produced by Xinhua Global Service

  • TALKS WITH THE REGIONAL REPRESENTATIVE OF THE UN OHCHR FOR CENTRAL ASIA

    On November 3, 2021, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan Vepa Hajiyev met with the Regional Representative of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights for Central Asia, Ryszard Komenda, via videoconference.

    Dmitry Shlapachenko, UN Resident Coordinator in Turkmenistan, also took part in the meeting.

    During the meeting, the sides discussed issues related to further development of cooperation between Turkmenistan and the UN specialized agencies on human rights. There was a constructive exchange of views on strengthening and protection of human rights, including implementation of the obligations and provisions of the human rights conventions in which Turkmenistan takes part.

    Noting Turkmenistan's achievements in the field of human rights, the sides discussed procedures for the practical implementation of humanitarian standards in national legislation.

    As is known, Turkmenistan, consistently fulfilling its obligations in the humanitarian sphere, has acceded to most UN conventions, covenants and protocols on human rights. The protection of human rights and gender development issues are reflected in the national programs of socio-economic development of Turkmenistan.

    The sides also discussed the activities of the Working Group of the Interdepartmental Commission on compliance with Turkmenistan's international obligations on human rights and international humanitarian law. In this regard, the sides considered the key areas of implementation of the Joint Action Plan of the Interdepartmental Commission on compliance with Turkmenistan's international obligations on human rights and international humanitarian law and of the United Nations (UN) Mission in Turkmenistan for the second half of 2021.

    Regular contacts between the Government of Turkmenistan and the International Labor Organization (ILO) for the coordination of joint projects and the organization of visits to Turkmenistan by ILO experts were emphasized.

    During the talks, gratitude was expressed to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights for Central Asia for organizing and conducting meetings related to the provision of technical assistance and coordination of activities in the implementation of UN projects on human rights.

  • Prime Minister of Georgia addresses the World Leaders Summit, United Nations Climate Change Conference

    The Caucasus, a beautiful land of mountains, glaciers, and rivers, has already lost 40% of its glaciers. During the last two decades alone, the speed of glacier loss in the eastern Georgia has exceeded projections from the end of the 20th century. We fully share the alarm presented by the UN Secretary-General's latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that declared a ‘code red for humanity,'" Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili stated in his speech at the World Leaders Summit, within the scope of the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference.
    According to the Head of Government, greater ambition and effort is needed if we are to meet the long-term temperature goals of the Paris Agreement and avert a global disaster.
    The Prime Minister thanked the United Kingdom for its dedication to making the COP26 a reality in light of the ongoing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, also pointing out the importance of joint efforts necessary to deal with the challenges triggered by climate change.
    According to Irakli Garibashvili, the Government of Georgia has a development plan with a clear vision for 2030 that aligns perfectly with the UN Agenda for Sustainable Development.
    The investments in clean energy, climate-smart agriculture, and enhanced adaptive capacity represent concrete steps for reducing emissions and preparing our societies for the unavoidable impacts of climate change, the Head of Government added.
    "The next generation are counting on us to deliver on our promise," the Prime Minister stated.

    Keynote Speech Delivered by Irakli Garibashvili, Prime Minister of Georgia at COP26

    Press Service of the Government Administration

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