Man allegedly burns ex-wife to death in western Georgia

A man in Terjola, western Georgia, has been accused of murdering his ex-wife and injuring several others after dousing her with petrol and setting her alight.

The attack reportedly took place late Thursday evening at a supermarket where the woman worked as a manager on the late shift.

Corresponding TV Mtavari, the man attacked his former partner before locking her in a room and killing her. Several other employees suffered burns in the attack while the assume remains on artificial ventilation due to his injuries.

local media reported that an injunction has been issued against the suspect. However, the Home Office declined to confirm this.

This was announced by the Ministry of the Interior OC media that an investigation has been opened into the premeditated murder of a family member and with particular cruelty, a crime punishable by 16 to 20 years imprisonment or life.

A worsening situation

The killing is the latest in a string of high-profile femicide and violence against women cases in Georgia in recent months, many involving men who have been placed under restraining orders.

According to that Office of the Prosecutor186 cases of femicide were registered in Georgia between 2014 and 2022.

But Baia Pataraia, the head of Georgia’s women’s rights group Sapari, said OC media that femicide statistics in Georgia have deteriorated in recent years.

‘The situation was not [previously] like this. When [Giorgi] Gakharia was the interior minister and [Natia] Mezvrishvili was his deputy, the criminal justice policy was very strict, and cases of murdering women fell sharply. And now we’re going back to the old, very high numbers,” Pataraia said.

In early October, three women were killed within a week.

One of the most high-profile cases occurred in Telavi, in the Kakheti region of eastern Georgia, where a 26-year-old woman was killed by her husband in front of their child. Three days earlier, a Telavi Court judge released the suspect on bail after he was arrested for allegedly assaulting his wife and making death threats.

Speaker of Parliament Shalva Papuashvili answered on the killings, noting that although the number of femicides has declined since 2005, “these facts are appalling.”

“There were some shocking facts that certainly deserve Parliament’s attention. This particularly concerns the issue of law enforcement,” Papuahsvili said.

As of this week, there have been at least three more cases of feminicide in Georgia.

A matter of prevention as well as punishment

Ana Tavkhelidze, a lawyer for the Georgian advocacy group Partnership for Human Rights (PHR), said OC media that femicide is a systemic problem that requires not only post-actual attention but also preventive measures to protect potential victims and punish perpetrators of domestic violence.

“Until now, the state has had a very tough policy in domestic violence cases, and that tough policy has also been reflected in the courts – they used the custodial sentence and looked at the case from the victim’s perspective – but now the courts have started to do theirs too change and demand a higher standard of proof that is contrary to national and international legislation”.

“When we talk about domestic violence, [the courts] cannot demand extremely high standards of proof which she knows will never be met by a victim because a key feature of this crime is that it takes place behind closed doors, there are no witnesses. The main evidence should be the victim’s testimony, which the court should be guided by,” Tavkhelidze said.

She believes that when courts wrongly acquit men of domestic violence because of insufficient evidence, it can encourage the perpetrator.

‘[The perpetrator] believes that because the courts rely on such a high standard of evidence, nothing will prevent him from committing a crime in the future, and this encourages others. Criminals feel hopeful [their chances in] court,’ said Tavchelidze.

What should the state do?

On November 25 the government announced that it would take part in an international 16-day campaign against violence against women, which begins on that day.

The announcement said the government was committed to “a coordinated and complex approach to addressing violence against women and domestic violence.”

But Tavchelidze told OC media that the justice system had to be repaired to solve the problem and that existing tools had to be used correctly.

“The restraining order often does not work properly in practice, is imperfect and its monitoring mechanism is useless. This mechanism needs to be checked,” Tavkhelidze said.

According to that Interior Ministryrestraining orders can be issued in Georgia for a maximum of 30 days and depend on the investigating police officer.

Baia Pataraia added that there had been several cases where the police interrogated and released an alleged perpetrator of domestic violence, after which he murdered his accuser.

“In general, it is difficult to predict the behavior of an offender, what risk he poses, but there is a risk assessment questionnaire that in any case must be completed qualitatively by interviewing the victim,” explained Pataraia. ‘[The questionnaire] is a good tool, but the problem is that police officers are too lazy to fill it in and don’t take it seriously’.

“The example of other countries shows us that where electronic wristbands are used, femicide does not occur. Electronic bracelets are in stock [in Georgia]but their use is small.’

“I don’t know how many women you have to kill for [law enforcement agencies] to use [questionnaires and electronic bracelets]’, She said.

Ana Tavkhelidze said that women in Georgia often face a dismissive and biased attitude. In cases of violence against women, society blames the victim and the courts also have the burden of proof on the victim.

“The solution is that people working on domestic violence cases should be selected primarily based on their values ​​and beliefs. if [an employee of a public agency] is himself a proponent and promoter of gender inequality, stereotypically thinking it’s impossible for him to be a good policeman or judge,” she said.

“Professionals should be selected, retrained and qualified on this basis, because there is a lack of knowledge, and that will be the solution to the problem.”

If you are a… victim of domestic violence in Georgia or information about domestic violence, you can call the national emergency number 112. A counseling hotline for Georgian citizens is available at 116 006.