South Caucasus Domestic Violence Conference: Swedish NGO Involvement
Monday, May 21, 2007 2:06 PM

The Swedish Fund “Kvinna till Kvinna” was established in 1993 on the basis of the belief that “Women’s participation is essential in order to provide for comprehensive post-conflict rehabilitation.” In the beginning the organization focused on the Balkans, however, now it has spread to other regions, including the South Caucasus.

A three-day conference was held in Yerevan, Armenia on the subject of domestic violence. Representatives of NGOs from Armenia, Georgia, Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions gathered to discuss legal and political aspects of domestice violence, women's shelters, law enforcement, sexual violence and reproductive health. The focal point of the meetings was to seek ways in which NGOs can be involved in bringing about the passage of laws that would curb domestic violence.

Mrs. Manana Sologashvili from the “Anti-Violence Network of Georgia” talked about the history of creation of the "Law on Domestic Violence in Georgia.” This law was adopted on May 26, 2006. Both members of state and NGOs were involved in the process.

The head of the “Center for Women’s Rights," Mrs. Susana Vardanyan (Armenia) brought up the concern that a law on domestic violence has not been adopted in Armenia. This is unfortunate given the latest Gallup poll data which showed that approximately 70.1% women in Armenia have suffered domestic violence. There is, however, a plan to open a shelter in Armenia by 2009.

Mrs. Marina Gumba (Sukhumi), the leader of “Social and Psychological Support Center,"  talked about the existence of the “Trust Phone," in Abkhazia. This service offers women psychological consultations, information and social services. The members of the organization also set up the “Trust phone for prisoners." Now there is an idea to create a “Trust phone for women-prisoners.”

Mrs. Marina Modebadze, the head of “Women –Democrats of Samtskhe – Javakheti”, discussed the women’s shelter in Georgia, which offers psychological and educational work to victims of violence. Members of the organizations try to provide victims with employment and housing upon leaving the shelter.

Mrs. Maya Kvaratskhelia is the head of the organization “Avangard” in Gali, Georgia. She spoke of her organization's latest project which established an information center. Its aim is to raise awareness among young girls on the issues of sex. The girls would receive training in human anatomy and AIDS. In order to provide women with job opportunities, the center instructs women in computer skills and English language.

Mrs. Stina Magnuson works for the Fund Kvinna till Kvinna as a coordinator between organizations in Armenia and Azerbaijan. She participated in the conference in Yerevan and asserted Fund Kvinna till Kvinna's commitment to support these countries' work on women’s problems. She said: "We intend to support them to reach gender equality in the region."

Excerpt from: "Each Woman and Each Child Have Right to Live without Violence," Modebadze, Nino, Gender Informational Network of South Caucasus, 3 May 2007.