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Government to initiate stricter legislation on arranged marriages

By Tatia Megeneishvili
Wednesday, September 10
The Parliament of Georgia discussed the issue of forced or arranged marriages and put amendments in the Criminal Code of Georgia on September 8.

Changes were introduced in more than 10 laws.

According to the proposed changes, forcing a woman to get married following a deal between parents, or abducting a woman to coerce her into marriage will become a criminal offence.

In the case if an individual is found guilty of coercion of marriage, the individual will be sentenced to 200-400 hours of community service or two to four years imprisonment.

An automatic prison sentence of two to four years would be issued if this criminal act was committed against an underage person.

According to MP Guguli Maghradze, through the amendments Georgia joins the Istanbul Convention, which aims at eliminating all forms of discrimination against women.

According to MP Eka Beselia, in many regions in Georgia forcible marriages are still an actual problem.

“When we have such a hard situation in this regard in some regions, amendments in the law were inevitable,” stated Beselia.

Different non-governmental organizations (NGO) and lawyers positively assess the changes. However, they think that the amendments are not enough.

Levan Vepkhvadze from the Georgian Young Lawyer’s Association said that in many cases people refrain from addressing police when it comes to the above mentioned problems.

Project Manager at UN Women Irina Japaridze said that one more positive aspect in the law will be the fact that victims of coercion will receive compensation from the government.

“If the individual will not be able to receive compensation from her violator, the government will take responsibility for this,” said Japaridze.

NGOs believe that the government should carry out intensive information campaigns against this form of violence and persuade people that notifying law-enforcement officials and appropriate bodies in the case of violence in not a shame. The government plans to undertake such a campaign.

The United Nations views forced marriage as a form of human rights abuse, since it violates the principle of the freedom and autonomy of individuals. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that a woman's right to choose a spouse and enter freely into marriage is central to her life and dignity, and equality as a human being.

In 2013 the first United Nations Human Rights Council resolution against child, early, and forced marriages was adopted; the resolution recognizes child, early, and forced marriage as involving violations of human rights which “prevents individuals from living their lives free from all forms of violence and that has adverse consequences on the enjoyment of human rights, such as the right to education, and the right to the highest attainable standard of health including sexual and reproductive health." The resolution also states that “the elimination of child, early and forced marriage should be considered in the discussion of the post-2015 development agenda.”