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When they interviewed her, the 17-year-old girl was sitting in an armchair, not making eye contact with anyone, recalled Detective Gvantsa Gogava, who investigates domestic violence against juveniles in Georgia.
“When she talked about the perpetrator, who was a family member, she did not use a word for a human being,” said Gogava. “Rather, she used a word for a soulless creature.” Gogava was used to talking to women and girls who had suffered from violence. She knew that gaining the girl's trust was fundamental.
“I told her, ‘We believe you.’ That was a milestone that made her feel free,” said Gogava. “Once she felt she could trust us, her body language changed, she made eye contact.”

For a decade, the girl had been raped by a family member. She decided to report him because her younger sister was turning the age she had been when the rapes and sexual assault began.
Preventing and stopping beating, rape and other crimes against women is one of the goals of the “Empowering Community for Gender Equality” project being implemented by the Network of Centers for Civic Engagement (NCCE) under “EU4GenderEquality: Together Against Gender Stereotypes and Gender-Based Violence,” a European-Union-funded programme implemented by UNFPA and UN Women in six countries.
The project seeks to protect more women and girls by enhancing the knowledge of police officers in the best ways to handle gender-based violence.
In 2021, 74 police officers (52 men and 22 women) from the Tbilisi, Imereti and Guria regions of Georgia participated in the training and learned about gender-based and domestic violence, related legislation, the importance of supporting victims and ensuring due diligence. Now, the police officers are able to substantiate their actions with arguments and case law. The training also covered the protocols for restraining orders and judicial decisions that impact gender-based-violence-related casework.
“The training that we delivered aimed to increase the awareness, sensitivity, and professionalism of the police officers working in the Ministry of Internal Affairs and those responsible for the prevention and response to domestic violence,” said Nina Khatiskatsi, Executive Director of the NCCE. “During the training, police officers and investigators had the chance to discuss the practical difficulties associated with evidence-gathering and talk about the importance of community support in reporting domestic violence. It is very important that the Government and civil society work together to end gender-based and domestic violence.”
The police training stems from a partnership with the Department of Human Rights Protection and Investigation Quality Monitoring of Georgia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA), which monitors the performance of police officers and investigators.
“The pandemic has not affected the quality of work related to combating domestic violence and violence against women,” said Gogava. “In partnership with the UN and international donors, MIA is offering us different trainings to enhance our qualification to better serve the community.”
In addition to the police training, EU4GE is also rolling out behaviour-correction programmes for perpetrators of violence in Georgia.
The police are uniquely placed to counter crime and influence harmful social norms as they are often the first people to learn about domestic violence cases.
In the case of the girl who was raped over a decade, “The girl was blaming herself,” said Gogava. “She’d always worried what other people would think.”
Supporting law enforcement as they protect women is challenging, but the rewards are clear. With the perpetrator in jail and the investigation over, Detective Gogava said the girl was studying again.
“It makes me happy when someone is safe – and saved,” said Gogava. “I have a 13-year-old daughter. I want girls to be safe from fear and violence and have a happy life.”