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Parliament discusses petition on sexual harassment criminalization

By Tea Mariamidze
Thursday, November 9
A petition on criminalizing sexual harassment, initiated by the Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Women’s Movement, has been accepted by the Parliament of Georgia for further consideration.

The Committee for the Protection of Human Rights of the Parliament of Georgia reviewed the petition and sent it to the Gender Equality Council, which will discuss it and define further steps. However, it is not known yet when the discussions will be held.

The Gender Council is a permanent body of Parliament since 2010, aimed at providing systematic and coordinated work on gender issues. There are 17 members of the council, of whom fourteen are women and three are men.

The petition on the webpage has been signed by over 1000 people and the NGO filed the initiative to the legislative body. According to petition authors, the Parliament should immediately make amendments to the Labor Code and Code of Administrative Offenses and prohibit sexual harassment at work place and public spaces.

The petition reads that the sexual harassment in the public space includes sexual content comments, jokes, touching, whistling, asking for telephone numbers or meeting that continue after refusals, etc.

As for sexual harassment at the work place, according to the petition, it is often expressed in unwanted compliments of sexual content, jokes, showing pornography, demanding sexual relations by bosses and promising promotion in return.

“The absence of prohibiting legislation for sexual harassment leads to abusive impunity and gender discrimination,” the petition reads.

The Chair of the Human Rights Protection Committee, Sopo Kiladze, agrees with the demands of the NGO, saying no tolerance should take place regarding sexual harassment.

“We should introduce some sanctions in order to help the people who sexually harass the others to restrain themselves or they will be held responsible before the law,” Kiladze stated.

A member of the Committee, Dimitri Tskitishvili, said that they share the ideas of the petition.

“We agree that changes have to be made not only to the Labor Code, but also to the Code of Administrative Offenses, in order to ensure protection of people, mostly women, from sexual harassment both at work and in public spaces. We see and understand this problem comprehensively,” he stated.

The Parliamentary Opposition also speaks about the necessity of regulations and believes the initiative is reasonable.

"It is a serious problem in the reality of Georgia and I hope the ruling Georgian Dream government will use the constitutional majority not only to change the constitution but also to make changes that are important for the whole of society," said Tinatin Bokuchava, a member of the United National Movement (UNM) opposition party.