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Tbilisi activists launch campaign against sexual harassment

22 February 2017
Stencil in Fabrika (Sulkhan Bordzikashvili)

On 21 January, Union Safari unveiled a legislative proposal and research on sexual harassment in public spaces in Georgia.

The presentation was attended by several non-governmental organisations as well as the Public Defender’s Office.

Based on the research, a legislative package was developed aimed at regulating sexual harassment in public spaces. According to the activists, no large-scale research has been conducted of sexual harassment in Georgia.

According to the president of Union Safari, Baia Pataraia, sexual harassment is widespread in Georgia and elsewhere in the world.

‘Our problem lies in the fact that there are no legislative penalties for sexual harassment in Georgia. While hooliganism is punishable, sexual harassment is not’, Pataraia told OC Media.

According to the activist, their campaign which was launched on 21 February will include lectures at universities as well as publication of real-life stories by victims of sexual harassment.

The Head of the Department of Gender Equality at the Public Defender’s Office, Ana Iluridze, told OC Media that sexual harassment has been on the rise, which has attracted increased attention from non-governmental groups.

‘We want to make amendments in the Administrative Code, as one of the main objectives of the Code is to regulate public spaces’, Iluridze said.

According to her, the reason for the lack of adequate statistics is that women often don’t perceive themselves as victims of sexual harassment. One of the aims of the campaign is to raise awareness about this problem.

Union Safari’s legislative package sets out what actions should be defined as sexual harassment and how they should be punished.

A first offense would be punishable by a fine of ₾200–₾1,000 ($75–$380) or 15 days in prison. For repeated offences over a period of a year, the maximum fine of ₾1000 ($380) or 15 days in prison would be imposed, while for offences committed against a minor or a vulnerable adult, a fine of at least ₾500 or 15 days in prison would be imposed.

After the meeting, members of Union Safari produced an anti–sexual harassment stencil in the courtyard of Tbilisi’s Fabrika community hub.