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Georgian woman accuses ex-teacher of sexual abuse

27 October 2017
Mari Kurtanidze (sapari.ge)

A woman from women’s rights group Sapari has accused her ex–maths teacher of sexual abuse. Mari Kurtanidze, 26, published an open letter on the organisation’s website addressing the teacher, who she says sexually abused her when she was 15.

Tamaz Akubardia, now 66, insists the allegations against him are false. Police are looking into the matter, despite no official complaint being filed, according to the Interior Ministry.

‘Your skin is like silk’, Akubardia would tell her, touching her underneath the table, Kurtanidze alleges in her 26 October letter. She accuses him of requesting she wear ripped jeans and threatening to kiss her on the lips if she failed to solve maths puzzles.

‘I remember how I used to cry, convincing myself that a 50-year-old teacher was not “my first kiss”, that it all happened by accident’, she writes.

According to Kurtanidze, it was difficult for her to open up about what had happened, but that now that she has a better understanding of violent culture she has decided to speak up.

‘Only now after 10 years do I dare speak about this loudly and not be ashamed. Not be ashamed! I am doing this for myself and for all the other girls and women who have to put up with sexual assault and abuse of different kinds’, Kurtanidze says.

Tamaz Akubardia was a member of Georgia’s Parliament in the late 1990s. He also ran in the 2014 local elections as a candidate for the Georgian Greens Party.

He did not respond to questions from journalists but posted a statement the following day, calling the accusations a ‘slandering campaign’, run against him and his family to defame him.

He said he could barely sleep thinking about how to explain to his children and relatives that they have become ‘victims of filthy politics aimed at defaming’ him.

‘I have fought and will continue to fight for equality, freedom, and democracy as long as these are values which make a human a human. But filthy political games such as this one, launched against me and my family in order to bring parliament’s attention to the law on sexual harassment undermine these values’, Akubardia posted.

On 24 October women’s rights activists presented a petition to Georgia’s Parliament calling for the criminalisation of sexual harassment in public and at workplaces. The petition, organised by umbrella group the Georgian Women’s Movement, was signed by more than 1,000 people online.

‘There are no legislative penalties for sexual harassment in Georgia today, and it’s not defined as discrimination’, the petition says, urging parliament to amend legislation.

A number of draft laws have been put to parliament in the past to criminalise harassment, but parliament did not consider them.

[Read more about sexual harassment in legislation on OC Media: Petition to criminalise sexual harassment put to Georgia’s Parliament]