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New study shows social norms regarding violence against women are changing in Georgia
New study shows social norms regarding violence against women are changing in Georgia

Half of women in Georgia report having experienced at least one form of violence in their lifetime, and the number of people who believe such violence is justifiable is falling, according to new study.

Recognizing the need for accurate data on prevalence and attitudes towards violence against women, the National Statistics Office of Georgia (GEOSTAT) teamed up with UN Women to conduct a second nationwide study on violence against women in Georgia in 2022.

The initial study, in 2017, provided the country’s first-ever data on the prevalence of intimate partner and non-partner violence, sexual harassment, stalking and sexual violence in childhood. It also measured women’s and men’s perceptions and awareness of gender-based violence in Georgia. The findings were used by UN Women, development partners and civil society to fuel strategic advocacy and dialogues, culminating in the historic adoption of Georgia’s first sexual harassment law by Parliament in May of 2019. 

The 2022 study expanded its scope to include additional forms of violence against women, as well as perceptions of related social norms and attitudes. The results show that 50.1% of women aged 15–69 in Georgia have experienced at least one form of violence in their lifetime. In particular, intimate partner violence (IPV) affects 22.9% who were ever in a relationship, while 24.5% of women have been sexually harassed, often by people they know. 

“The study marks a significant milestone for our country, positioning us among European nations with timely, high-quality and comparable data for SDG reporting,” says Gogita Todradze, Executive Director of GEOSTAT.  “The survey’s outcomes will inform policies addressing violence against women, contributing significantly to SDG progress.”

The study also revealed that more than one third of surveyed women affected by IPV remain silent (38.2%), turning to police or the health system only in serious cases, with few utilizing the formal social services available (6.2%). 

“The fact that more than 38% of women who have experienced violence have not uttered a word about it to anyone is shattering,” says UN Women Georgia Deputy Country Representative Tamar Sabedashvili. "To effectively combat violence against women, we have to persistently emphasize the fact that such violence is caused by gender inequality and this vicious cycle needs to be broken.” 

Marginalized women face higher rates of violence

The latest survey also analyses lifetime experiences of violence among marginalized women, finding that certain population groups are particularly at risk of IPV, such as women with lower levels of education, women who marry early, and women with disabilities. Women with disabilities also report higher rates of child sexual abuse, IPV and physical and sexual violence by non-partners compared to women without disabilities, and experience physical, emotional and economic violence at the hands of their family, as well as controlling behaviour and neglect. 

Intimate partner violence rate by location, age of marriage, economic status and disability status (percentage)



Note: IPV rate refers to percentage of ever-partnered women who have experienced at least one form of violence by their partner. “Disability status” is measured in line with the Washington Group Short Set on Functioning and refers to any functional difficulty reported by women with various degree of difficulty (“some difficulty”, “a lot of difficulty” or “cannot do at all”). "Economic status" is based on self-assessment of the household economic situation using a scale from 1 to 5 where 1 stands for very poor and 5 for very good. “Highest” refers to women from households with a self-described “very good” economic status, while “Lowest” refers to women from households that reported themselves to be “very poor”.

Societal attitudes are evolving

The study also reveals a shift in the prevailing tolerance and acceptance towards violence against women in relationships and inequitable views on gender and gender relations, with fewer people justifying spousal violence. Only 1.8% of women and 3.8% of men believe that there are justifications for a husband to hit or beat his wife, a significant decrease from the 22% of women and 31.1% of men who believed this in 2017. Although attitudes towards IPV are changing, women's and men's perceptions of domestic violence still differ in that 77.6% of women treat it as a major problem as opposed to just 57.5% of men. Fewer people in Georgia also now believe that violence between a husband and wife is a private matter, although 21.4% of women and 37% of men still believe that others should not intervene. 

“Promoting awareness and reshaping societal attitudes regarding violence against women are of paramount significance, as effectively reacting to entrenched harmful practices requires facts, supported by comprehensive statistics and research,” says Teona Chikovani, Executive Director of the Women's Information Center in Georgia. “The national survey is a crucial resource for civil society organizations and central and local governments to guide both policy formulation and implementation on sexual and gender-based violence, especially for awareness-raising and prevention. The survey underscores the pressing urgency of the issue, compelling its inclusion on planning agendas.”

Georgia is one of the few countries in the region that has held two rounds of a violence against women prevalence study. Regular data on prevalence are critical for identifying trends and measuring violence prevention and response efforts at the country level. The study responds to the data-collection obligation in Article 11 of the Istanbul Convention and represents a significant step in filling data gaps that have hampered efforts to combat violence against women in Georgia.

“The EU is pleased to support this landmark national study,” says Jurate Juodsnukyte, Attaché and Programme Manager for Labour, Migration and Gender, at the European Union Delegation to Georgia. “By collecting timely and regular data on violence against women, Georgia will be better able to understand the extent of the problem and trends over time, informing policy, advocacy, protection services for survivors and efforts to prevent this scourge.” 

The study was conducted by GEOSTAT in partnership with UN Women under the project “Ending Violence against Women and Girls in Georgia,” funded by the European Union, and UN Women’s Women Count programme in Europe and Central Asia.

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