Silence does not help. It disempowers everyone.
This is my tribute to all the women in Georgia who have suffered any form of violence at the hands of men. As a result of my own extremely distressing experiences with a particular Georgian man, it is difficult for me to find a safe space within myself to ‘be reasonable’ about such an emotive subject. I don’t actually think I should dumb down my own emotional response to the latest murder of a young woman in Georgia who was killed, her body locked in a flat and the flat set on fire. The fact that she was vociferous about women’s sexual rights and the rights of the LGBT community only highlights how oppressed women and minority groups are in Georgia. She was murdered for having a voice, and for finding the courage to stand up for basic human rights in a society that is deeply flawed.
The horrific nature of this woman’s death is not, unfortunately, unusual across many countries but the death of this one woman, the latest in a series of Femicides in Georgia brings into sharp focus how close to the surface violence against women is. When I was there last summer, I had coffee with a friend in the Old Town of Tbilisi, a café that, on the surface looked cosmopolitan and European. My friend told me how, that very morning he had tried to find the apartment in the block where he was living where the screaming, sobbing, thumps and thuds were coming from. Every few days, he said, the same thing happened. He could not tell if it was from the apartment above, below, by the side or across the hall. His face was tortured and his fists bunched as he said, ‘If I could get my hands on the bastard I would kill him.’
Hate crime is not classified in the Georgian legal system as a separate type of crime.
Have you ever had a death threat?
I have*. Seriously.
Have you ever told people about the death threat only to be greeted with platitudes of, ‘Oh he would never do that, he may say… it but he would never do it.’
I have. Seriously.
Have you ever been threatened by his friends, been told you were a liar, were attention seeking or that these things were a private matter and not to be spoken about publically?
Have you been told that you, ‘Did it to yourself’.
That you were crazy and ought to be ashamed?
I have been. Seriously.
Have you ever had people who are in denial about the toxicity of a society look at you with pity as you struggle to understand how this has happened to you… to you?
If only, YOU, would shut-up.
Just. Shut. Up.
I have been Really. Seriously.
Georgia’s hatred for women is growing.
If you are a woman who happens to be active,
If you are a woman who pokes the blind eye
Who paints rainbow colours on the steps of public indifference
If it is you who makes, into a paper aeroplane the letter, hand delivered to the
Head of the home by the policeman
Reminding you not to show your bruises in public
Could you fold it please, and from your 9th floor post- soviet concrete crumbling apartment
that drips and
Stinks of lies and drink, let it go, so that I may find it and come to
For you, my sister, are lost. Ashes of good intention drift over the plateau.
Your children are silent now.
The stick he used to beat you, lies, smouldering by the blackened bed.
Where is the key he forced inside you?
Jagged, charred, and now crevice concealed by a concerned neighbour
Who wiped it clean right after
He turned it against
That last time.
Silence does not help. It disempowers
# After thinking I could handle the threats and manage them myself I realised that, after the man who was making them wrote that he could ‘pay anyone in London just £200 to hurt me’ I involved the police. They took it seriously, contacted Georgia, connected me with the domestic abuse telephone support line, who called every week for the next 4 months and then once a month for a year afterwards, prioritised any calls I made to them and filed a case against him. The advised me to keep silent.