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Two restraining orders against the victim of domestic violence – dangerous precedent

13.03.2018

 
Lana Giorgidze

“In the beginning of relationship, harassers may not demonstrate their character. I had known my future husband more than one year before the marriage and he never harassed me. When I married him, I discovered that he had drastically different opinions and character, and everything was revealed eventually. I even told him that he had covered his real nature very well,” the victim of the violence Dea Goshkheteliani said.

22-years-old Dea Goshkheteliani is a victim of domestic violence. She left the husband only two years after the marriage but became subject of his violence even after the divorce (they had not officially registered their marriage in the Public Registry; they had only church wedding). 7 months after the divorce, the former husband Giga Bakuradze beat Dea and her father in their house. Bakuradze was arrested but Kutaisi City Court released him under the bail. Goshkheteliani does not exclude possibility that the court judgment was passed under influence of her former father-in-law - Gocha Bakuradze, who is the director of Khoni Psychiatric Hospital; before that he was head of the Kutaisi police department.

Because of the court judgment, the victim of violence continued life in fear as she was afraid that the harasser will again abuse her. To prevent that she decided to tell her story to the society via social network and media. Dea Goshkheteliani published her photos on her personal facebook page, where it is clearly seen that she had bruises on the face.
 
First time, the former husband physically assaulted her 3-4 months after the marriage. Dea was pregnant. She said they had a conflict about minor issue and does not remember it. “He grabbed me in the shoulders and pushed me against the wall; I had bruises on the arms for a week.”

Dea Goshkheteliani is not the only woman in Georgia, who became victim of physical harassment while pregnancy. In accordance to the National Study on Violence against Women in Georgia by the UN Women, 2 per cent of women who had ever been pregnant reported being physically abused during at least one pregnancy. In Georgia, this could account for approximately 15,000 women in the country.

According to the UNWOMEN Study, among those women, 37 per cent reported being punched or kicked in the abdomen while pregnant. Of the women who reported being beaten during pregnancy, 64 per cent said that they had been beaten by the same person before the pregnancy as part of an ongoing pattern of abuse. Moreover, 6 per cent of women reported that the violence became worse during pregnancy.

Dea Goshkheteliani became subject of psychological harassment during the second pregnancy, which ended with grave result  - the pregnancy stopped.

“During pregnancy I had haimoritis and felt so bad that my sister used to take care of my child. My husband started arguing me why I had not ironed a shirt for him. He started shouting at me – pregnant sick girl lying in the bed – get out of my house. He even called my mother and demanded her to take me away and threatened with throwing all my belongings out of the window. My sister also witnessed this conflict. My parents came on the same day and took me to Kutaisi. Later we discovered that I had several health problems together; in addition to that I had nervous stress and finally the pregnancy stopped,” Dea Goshkheteliani told humanrights.ge.

After losing the second child, the former husband visited Dea Goshkheteliani at her parents’ home and apologized.

“My husband arrived in Kutaisi. He apologized and urged us to let him in. He said his father was guilty in our incident. He was blaming his parents in everything. He even cried on his knees and urged to forgive him. I trusted him that he had hard time and reconciled. We lived peacefully for another one month and afterwards he again started treating me aggresively,” Goshkheteliani said and added that afterwards she started resisting her harasser husband during conflicts.

Dea said, her former husband believed that the woman must not say a word in the family and she must not leave kitchen. Goshkheteliani divorced her husband on June 25, 2017 after a next physical assault. 

“I called patrol police, and officer warned me about the risks in terms of determination of the residential place of the child if I asked for restraining orders; on that ground they drew up a protocol on family conflict. However, next day, I had to call police again because of psychological harassment and they issued restraining order on my former husband. The second restrining order was issued on January 3, 2018, when he attacked me in my house and beat me and my father. On January 8 he breached the requirements of the restrining order but the Appeal Court did not consider it to be a violation claiming that there were enough evidence to prove that.

In summer, in the period of the restraining order, the former husband several times breached the order, and my friends also witnessed it – he was scolding me in their presence and tried to provoke me. But I did not respond to him (in accordance to the restraining order I also have obligation not to start conflict with the harasser and respected the law requirements), but I did not call police because of my child; he was manipulating with the child. He kidnapped my child; there are 4 patrol protocols about it and this factor scared me – I did not want to irritate him even more,” Dea Goshkheteliani told humanrights.ge.

Police issued restraining order against harasser upon the request of the woman, victim of the violence, but in accordance to the government-approved draft law, a police officer shall issue the retraining order even if the victim refuses it. The amendment is envisaged in the draft law “on Combating Violence against Women and/or Domestic Violence, Defense and Support of Violence Victims” which was approved by the Government of Georgia on March 6 and submitted to the Parliament. 

“A police officer will no longer have authority to issue restraining order against harasser in accordance to the will of the victim because the victim is in grave psychological conditions during domestic violence. There were cases when the victim requested the restraining order and then changed her mind and requested to cancel it. Consequently, the police officer will now be obliged to issue restraining order in all instances of domestic violence,” Minister of Justice Thea Tsulukiani told media. 

In order to use effective measures with regard to Dea Goshkheteliani’s case, on January 9, 2018 the Public Defender of Georgia appealed the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Chief Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia.  She called on the law enforcement bodies to consider the grave situation of domestic violence and violence against women in the country, thoroughly analyze the threats facing victims and their family members, and take effective measures to protect them. 

“The appeal of the Public Defender is based on the practice, according to which, violence between partners or former partners contains high risk of femicide. In addition, high level of femicide in the country is still related to the absence of monitoring of cases of domestic violence and violence against women and risk assessment system. As a result, there are frequent cases of murder or attempted murder of women, damages to their health or cases of pushing them to commit suicide as a result of domestic violence, when the law enforcement agencies had been informed of alleged domestic violence before the crimes were committed, but they failed to protect and help the victims,” the statement of the Public Defender reads.

On January 12, unlike the City Court, the Appeal Court accepted the arguments of the prosecutor and considering the threat of new crime and influence on witnesses, the judge sentenced the former husband of Dea Goshkheteliani to preliminary imprisonment.

In addition to the physical and verbal harassment, the former husband was demanding Dea to drink unknown medicines. 

“I wintessed a fact when his father (Gocha Bakuradze) sent him some medicines from the Khoni psychiatric hospital, which were wrapped in papers; he warned him not to show the medicine to anybody because it was prohibited to sell them without doctor’s prescription. The husband was demanding me to drink those medicines. Besides that, he had guns at home, including handmade knife, which, as he told me, causes internal blooding and lethal result,” Goshkheteliani said.

According to the statement of the Deputy Minsiter of Interior, all arms were withdrawn from the house of Dea Goshkheteliani’s husband. Natia Mezvrishvili said the law enforcement officers worked hard in this case. 

“In the case of domestic violence against Dea Goshkheteliani, the law enforcement bodies did their best. As a result of search, we withdrew all guns which the accused person possessed. We issued restraining order to secure the victim. We issued the second restraining order to prohibit the accused person to use gun and also issued a protocol on administration offence about the violation of restraining order by the accused person. Reportedly, criminal charge was imposed on him. The prosecutor’s office appealed the issue of imprisonment term at the appeal court and in fact, as a result of coordinated work of the law enforcement bodies, today the harasser is in custody. The fight against domestic violence is one of the key priorities of the MIA and in future, we will be as effective towards similar facts as we were in this concrete case in order to ensure security of each victim,” the Deputy Minister of Interior said. 

According to the Prosecutor’s Office, the investigation was commenced under the Article 126 Part I and Article 1261 Part II – b of the Criminal Code of Georgia, which refer to domestic violence – beating or other violence, which caused physical pain of the victim, also domestic violence in the presence of minor. 

As the underage child had witnessed violence facts against her mother from the side of the father, psychologist is working with her.

“The child was afraid; she never left me and was afraid that unless we are together, somebody would take me from her. After the incidents, the child was waking up in tears and when she realized that I was with her, she was getting calm. A psychologist is now working with the child and she will deliver the conclusion soon,” the victim of violence told humanrights.ge.

On February 6, 2018 the Kutaisi police issued restraining order against Dea Goshkheteliani. Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association disseminated information about it.

According to the GYLA, the police stated they issued restraining order against Goshkheteliani because of her post in social network, which was evaluated as psychological harassment by her former father-in-law. Dea wrote that for years she was subject of harassment from the side of her family. The Kutaisi police concluded that it was psychological harassment against the former father-in-law. GYLA appealed the restraining order in the Kutaisi Appeal Court but the judge upheld it.

GYLA believes “police and court are making decisions which contain threats of ungrounded, unlawful and repeated victimization” with regard to Goshkheteliani. They said instead offering effective mechanisms of self-defense to the victim of violence, the state uses repressive measures against the victim. GYLA stated the reporting to the law enforcement officers worsens the conditions of the woman and compels her to reject defense mechanisms offered by the state. 

“The court created risky precedent which opposes the interests of the victim, which unlawfully restricts the victim to discuss the violence facts in public space and express her opinion. This decision acknowledged the victim as harasser and by doing that the victim women receive a message from the state that they should not speak about violence facts because it may be used against her.

Regardless groundlessness of the order, Dea obeyed the order and did not make any statements about the former family members in the social network since February 6. However, on February 17, 2018 the former mother-in-law and sister-in-law also applied to the police and requested to issue restraining order against Dea Goshkheteliani, who disseminated insulting information about them in the social network. The police again satisfied this ungrounded request and forbade Dea Goskheteliani to publish insulting status about her former mother-in-law and sister-in-law in the social network (although she had never written anything since February 6),” the GYLA’s statement reads.

According to the organization, the developments about Dea Goshkheteliani reveals that both police and the court use restraining orders against the victim’s interests. The order aims to correctly identify the harasser and victim and to protect the victim from real, immediate and future harassment instead restricting right to free expression in public space and prohibiting public statements. 

On February 20, the Kutaisi Appeal Court annulled the restraining order issued against Dea Goshkheteliani because of her facebook post based on the application of her former father-in-law. However the second restraining order issued based on the application of her mother-in-law and sister-in-law is in force. 

Head of Rule of Law Program at the IDFI Giorgi Beraiai told Netgazeti that restraining order issued against the victim of domestic violence Dea Goshkheteliani and court judgments about it was very alarming precedent in terms of freedom of expression, which was established by police on the one hand and later supported by the first instance court, when they demanded the person to refrain from facebook activities.

Dea Goshkheteliani said issuing restraining order against her was absurd because there were no grounds for that. “With this they restricted my freedom of expression. At the same time, other victim women of domestic violence get afraid to speak about the violence, which will farther increase the statistics of domestic violence in the country.”

Dea Goshkheteliani said the relatives of her former husband created fake facebook pages and tried to degrade her. “They scold and curse me; they try to justify the action of the harasser claiming that I deserved it.”

According to the victim of the domestic violence, the most effective mechanism to fight against domestic violence is speaking about it publicly.
“When it refers to violence, it goes beyond the family and become issue of the state. Speaking about the violence is the most effective guarantee of defense. The more people hear you, the more protected you are. As for negative comments, it is not strange because together with the healthy part of the society, there is negative part of the society, who inadequately evaluate the situation, so I do not think we should pay attention to their opinions,” Dea told humanrights.ge.

In Georgia violence against women is mostly acceptable for the women and men: almost one quarter of women (22 per cent) and one third of men (31 per cent) believe that wife-beating is justified under certain circumstances. Moreover, almost one quarter of all women (23 per cent) and nearly half of all men (42 per cent) believe that a wife should obey her husband even if she disagrees.

The study was carried out by the UN Woman, GEOSTAT and EU together. This is the first nationwide research initiative on violence against women conducted in Georgia since UNFPA’s 2009 study.

Regardless similar attitude of one part of the society, the victim of domestic violence Dea Goshkheteliani suggests other women, who are victims of violence to speak about the facts of violence to be more protected. 

This article was prepared in the frame of the project “Support to the Prevention of Violence against Women in Georgia, which is implemented by Human Rights Center with financial support of the U.S. Embassy Tbilisi under Democracy Commission Small Grants Program. The contents of this article are those of the Human Rights Center and do not necessarily represent the views of the Department of State.


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