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Rights groups urge authorities to investigate alleged university sexual abuse

7 April 2017
Women march against sexual violence in Georgia (Mari Nikuradze/OC Media)

Several women’s rights groups have demanded a ‘fast and efficient’ investigation into allegations of sexual abuse of a student by her professor, in an open letter released on 6 April.

Local newspaper Batumelebi reported that a PhD student at Batumi State University has accused her university professor of sexual abuse. She claims that a 70-year-old professor abused her several times; the professor denies the accusation.

In November 2016, while working on her PhD thesis, the student and professor travelled to Marneuli through Tbilisi together to collect seedlings of a rare plant, which was necessary for her research. On their way to Tbilisi, the woman claims that he started talking about sex and said that he ‘liked virgins’. According to her complaint, he tried to kiss her and hugged her without her permission.

Then, on 23 November, while staying in a hotel on their way back from Marneuli to Batumi, he forced her to have sex with him, threatening to have her expelled from university if she refused.

The professor denies the accusations and says that he has never talked about anything but her thesis, and has never tried to abuse her.

According to Batumelebi, the young woman filed a report against the lecturer to the staff of the university.

The police have been investigating the incident since January, for charges of ‘coercing sexual contact using a position to power’, which is punishable by a fine or up to three years in prison.

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