Alarming Trends: From Forced Marriages to Honor Based Violence
16 October, 2014
Alarming Trends: From Forced Marriages to Honor Based Violence
Are women’s rights protected in Georgia? Unfortunately, the answer to this question is “No.” Regardless of ethnicity, women’s rights are frequently subject to violation. In some cases, women aren’t recognized as people at all. Such a harsh conclusion is founded on rather depressing statistics, which document numerous cases of wives murdered by their husbands or relatives over the course of just a single year.

Recently, in Kakheti’s village of Lambalo, relatives of 30-year-old Khanum Jeiranova found her hanged, an apparent suicide She did not have any psychological problems that could have pushed her towards suicide; her husband’s relatives drove her to it. Shortly before the tragic act, they severely beat Khanum in public, humiliating her before the entire village. The attackers had seen Khanum together with an unknown man and considered this sufficient for accusing her of adultery. Nobody asked her who this man was and what the nature of their interaction was. Apparently, the ethnic minority-populated enclave where Khanum lived considers it pointless to ask a woman (especially a married woman) anything because she is not allowed an opinion to begin with. Otherwise it is unexplainable why no one attempted to intervene and prevent a woman from getting beaten in the center of the village. Despite the fact that the woman was abused in front of them for hours, no one objected and no one called the police to end the dreadful scene. Nobody called the ambulance, either. Nothing happened to sober up the people among which many Khanums, Azizas and others suffer from lack of rights.
The only person who was somehow sentimental to Khanum’s tragedy, was her own husband himself, the very man who according local customs, had to kill or banish her in first place, “for being unfaithful”.

AJI HASANOV, Khanum Jeiranova’s husband: – “We lived together for 14 years. We worked together. She always helped me. When this happened I was shepherding the sheep. My cousins caught her in somebody’s car. That boy was from Kazlar. At first they beat Khanum on the spot; then they took her by car to the center and publicly beat her there. From the center she walked home bare-footed.
Khanum was an honest person. Before committing suicide she requested to see her children but they were with my brother… They keep asking me where their mother is. For me, life has no meaning. I have neither a mother, nor a father. My
wife hung herself because of shame. I’ll sell all my cattle and leave this place. My wife didn’t deserve all this.”

– What would you do if you found out that your wife betrayed you?

– “I wouldn’t kill her but I’d force her out of the house. She was 16 years old when I kidnapped her. For 14 years we lived a happy life together but this is how our life has ended” – says Khanum’s husband in an interview with Kviris Palitra.

The case is currently being investigated by the police on grounds of driving a person to suicide.

LIMONA ALAZOVA, resident of yet another minority-dominated village, Keshelo, is also 30 years old, same age as Khanum. She is alive, but fears for her life.
Due to injuries to her torso and head that she suffered at the hands of her cousins a few days ago, Limona ended up in intensive care. Just like Khanum, she was accused of adultery. Her cousins beat her senseless and then shot her twice.
According to Limona, members of her family accused her of having sexual relations with another man and promised to kill her for that. Now she doesn’t want to leave the hospital, saying that a terrible fate awaits her at home at the hands of her family. Moreover, even neighbors have turned against Limona, promising to exile her from the village. And the reason for this entire tragedy is some man who parked his car in front of Limona Alazova’s house. The woman has been divorced for ten years, but her neighbors insist that the likes of her aren’t only forbidden to approach other men, but are considered adulterers even if someone stops a car near their homes.
The victim has already told the police what happened to her. According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the investigation into the case is already ongoing.
Almost simultaneously with Limona’s and Khanum’s tragedies, 21-year-old Ulfukar Guliev was murdered in the Azerbaijani-majority village of Kazlar, Sagarejo region. The youth was killed for his infatuation with a certain girl and a desire to marry her. The death sentence was allegedly carried out by the girl’s family.
Law enforcement officers have already apprehended 42-year-old Novruz Q., the girl’s father, on charges of premeditated murder. Novruz’s wife and two sons, also suspects in this sadistic murder, are currently in hiding. According to the claims of Ulfukar’s relatives, the youth and the 15-year-old girl loved each other, but the girl’s family did not like her choice and declared that she has no say in this matter and that they will arrange her marriage with the person they deem worthy. They claim that the girl informed her beloved of her parents’ intentions and they decided to elope. However, the car in which they attempted their escape failed to start. By one account, upon exiting the car, Ulpukar suffered a heavy hit on the head with the back of an axe that the girl’s enraged father wielded. Unconscious, he was dragged out into the house’s yard, where he was bound with a rope and tortured to death with sticks, a metal rod and cigarettes. The torture lasted for several hours, and the body of the youth bore numerous burns to face and lips.
Relatives of the victim threaten the family with lynching if the police fail to bring them to justice. On the other side, 15 year old Nargiz Karimova, Ulfukar’s supposed love interest, says he didn’t love the boy and wasn’t asking to be kidnapped, as it is told by Ulfukar’s relatives:
“I didn’t know Ulfukar at all. As it turned out he saw me at a wedding and liked me. His mother came several times to ask for my hand but my family refused because I’m under-age, only 15 years old…”

– Could you tell us what happened that day?

– “It was 2 o’clock a.m. My brothers slept in the same room. Two boys snuck in, covered my mouth with a hand and warned me not to utter a sound and took me out. A car was parked at the house and they put me in it. My father heard some noise and rushed out. My brothers also came out and took me inside the house. I don’t know what happened afterwards. There was no light at home and I could see nothing.”

– They say that you sent Ulfukar an SMS asking him to come because your father wanted you to marry somebody else. Weren’t you waiting for the car at your house?

– “No, I have no telephone. If I wanted to be his wife I would go away secretly in the daytime, neither my father, nor my brothers would know about it. I didn’t love him. I didn’t want him to be killed, but if I loved him, I would ask my father to give me to him…” – said the girl in an interview with Kviris Palitra.
Yet there are people in this village who justify the murderers’ actions. According to them, Ulfukar Guliev crept into the girl’s bedroom at night to kidnap her, bringing dishonor to her family and thus, apparently, becoming “fair game.” Such statements are hard to believe, but the sad reality is that they still exist, even in the 21st century. Even sadder is the fact that many underage girls are still married out this way, without anyone asking their opinion regarding their grooms.
Just recently, a photo published on Facebook by the “Anti-Violence Network of Georgia” caused an outrage. According to the description, the photo depicts a 17-year-old girl in one of Kakheti’s villages, who supposedly is being forcefully married. The underage bride is in tears at the prospect of leaving her home. It says that the first time she saw her future husband was the day of her wedding.
It is unlikely that this girl, like 15-year-old Nargiz, will ever be able to shape her own future due to the strict and cruel influence of the household they were raised in. It is highly unlikely that they and many other girls will ever know about the 11th of October, which is the International Day of the Girl Child.
The purpose of this day is to raise awareness in society about gender inequality-related issues. It is proclaimed in the UN resolution 66/170 that support of girls’ rights is necessary to protect them from violence and discrimination and to allow them to feel that they have a future. The first and main targets of this cause are the governments that turned a blind eye when the likes of Khanum Jeiranova and Limona Alazova were abused and tortured, or when husbands murdered their wives in front of their own little children.
The Georgian office of UN Women has been researching gender inequality-related issues and cases of violence against women since 2010. They believe that the current situation will change only if public awareness of the issue is increased.

TAMAR SABEDASHVILI, program specialist of UN Women:

– Gender inequality runs very deep in our society. Thus, we should think together on how to reduce it. We should help our population realize what gender equality is. Domestic violence is the result of husband and wife holding unequal positions in the household. Governmental response to this problem and development of a corresponding judicial mechanism to tackle issues in this field is very important.
Regardless of the location where gender inequality takes place or whether it occurs in ethnically Azerbaijani or Georgian households, whether it is the husband or a group of relatives who kill women, in all cases we have the same type of crime. Therefore, a society that knows about the occurrence of regular cases of violence against women but does not think it necessary to interfere in other families’ business (in the case of Azerbaijanis, there may be other factors influencing this) is just as guilty of this crime as a group of people who see a woman getting abused in the street but do nothing about it. In all cases, the reason for this silence lies in stereotypical thinking, according to which a woman is a powerless, dependent, lesser being, while a man has the right to control her morally, set behavior standards for her and punish her if she doesn’t behave as she is told.
A woman is of course an individual equal to a man, with her own opinions and outlook on life and she must have the opportunity and freedom to live the way she wants. No one should dictate to her what is right or wrong; responsibility for this is hers and hers alone. The solution is about equality, but this is a very long-term perspective. While for short-term solutions the intervention of law enforcement is necessary. Accordingly, laws regarding domestic violence should be adequate and prevention should occur in a timely fashion, such as the issuing of restraining orders and offering victims protection.

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