|A Family Matter|
18/11/2012 22:34 (476 Day 05:48 minutes ago)
The FINANCIAL -- Over the course of a single year, Georgia has seen a fairly drastic change in attitudes toward domestic and gender violence.
People have become more aware of, and less accepting of gender violence: in 2010, 21% of Georgians believed domestic violence was an acute problem in Georgia, and 61% thought it was somewhat of a problem. This was an 8% increase over the number of people who said the same the previous year. This increase comes in spite of the general Georgian inclination to “keep it in the family.” In fact, these data suggest a possible move away from familial governance of domestic violence matters.
Every year for the last three, Georgian Opinion Research Business International has conducted a criminology and crime attitudes survey for the EU and the Georgian Ministry of Justice, known as the Crime and Security Survey in Georgia. It surveys 3000 Georgians nationwide, and asks questions meant to measure the victimization rates for a variety of crimes, as well as attitudes toward crime and safety. The first two years, this included both attitude and victimization questions about domestic violence.
Unfortunately, domestic violence is officially underreported virtually everywhere, as there is strong social stigma attached to being “battered wives and children.” In countries such as Georgia, where the traditional attitude is one of “keep it in the family,” this is even true for victimization surveys conducted in total privacy.
There was a 12% drop in the belief that men can force their wives into intercourse, down from the already generally low -14%, and there was a drastic decrease in the acceptability of beating children, down 34 points from an index of 12%. There was a shift away from agreement with the idea that verbal insults don’t fall under domestic violence, from 7% agreement to 1%.
Attitudes toward violence -- Even with the tendency to underreport, we can still collect some useful data on the general attitudes of the public. Each of the agreement/disagreement statements are represented in this index by a single number: by subtracting the percentage of those who disagree from those who agree, we get a sort of index, with negative numbers representing general disagreement and positive numbers showing agreement.
GORBI posited a series of statements to each respondent with the aim of understanding the general perception of gender roles and rights within a household. For instance, we asked respondents to agree or disagree with the statements, “whenever a husband considers it necessary, he can prohibit his wife to go for a visit,” and “if a woman doesn't do the housework, a husband has a right to force her to do domestic chores.” Both of these statements received significantly lower support in 2011 than 2010. 2011 Georgians were 12% less likely to think that husbands should have control of their wives’ social lives, and 6% less likely to think a husband can be a task master.There was a 12% drop in the belief that men can force their wives into intercourse, down from the already generally low -14%, and there was a drastic decrease in the acceptability of beating children, down 34 points from an index of 12%. There was a shift away from agreement with the idea that verbal insults don’t fall under domestic violence, from 7% agreement to 1%.
Over the last decade, various branches of the UN and international aid organizations have been carrying out a number of studies, aid programs, and public outreach programs to encourage a change in the public mindset and the institutional orientation towards domestic violence. Two of the primary goals in Georgia, like with most similar programs, are to educate the public on the nature and prevalence of domestic violence, and to encourage reporting to the appropriate authorities.
The change in public attitudes toward domestic violence show clear signs of improvement for those interested in the reduction of domestic violence, but changes in reporting tendencies have come up a mixed bag.
On the one hand, more people said that the state should be involved in the prevention of domestic violence (with the use of social services, police, etc) in 2011 (27%) than in 2010 (15%). The propensity for labeling domestic violence as “a family matter,” the chiefly identified culprit in underreporting, also dropped significantly: the agreement index for the statement, “domestic violence is a private affair of the family,” dropped by 22 points, from 12% to -10%.
On the other hand, when women were asked directly, in a yes/no format, only half said that they would report domestic violence to the authorities. This is unchanged from 2010 to 2011. While only 20% clearly said that no, they would not report, another 30% did not give an answer.
These numbers all point to a Georgian public that is actively changing its attitudes toward domestic violence. Over the next few years, the UNDP and several other organizations will be creating public awareness campaigns and other programs to encourage gender equality and to reduce domestic violence. GORBI will check back in some time to see if the Georgian people will continue to liberalize, or if they prefer to stick to their traditional gender roles.