Around 150 people gathered on Tbilisi’s Aghmashenebeli Avenue on 19 July, in solidarity with a woman who was threatened with gang rape after criticising a far-right march in the city. Aghmashenebeli was recently host to the ethno-nationalist, male-dominated ‘March of Georgians’.
The gathering began at around at 19:00 in front of the Railway Workers Culture Centre. Sixteen civil society and women’s rights groups were behind the march, including Women of Georgia, Women’s Gaze, the Independent Group of Feminists, Women’s Initiatives Support Group, and others.
‘It is time to wage a war against the oppressor. We have to unite against hate and make sure that in this unequal fight our solidarity and unanimity is decisive’, a statement from the organisers read said.
(Luka Pertaia/OC Media)
The demonstration was mostly a response to recent threats of gang rape and sexual violence levelled at Tatia Dolidze, a former Georgian Youth Delegate at the UN, on social media, from the leaders of the ethno-nationalist March of Georgians.
Police opened an investigation on 17 July for ‘allegedly making threats’, which is punishable by up to a year in prison.
[Read more on OC Media: Leaders of Tbilisi far-right march threaten woman with gang rape]
The ‘March of Georgians’, attended by approximately 2,000 people, almost exclusively men, was held on 14 July on Aghmashenebeli ‘against illegal immigrants’.
Women’s rights organisations claimed that rants from the participants of this ‘fascist’ demonstration, instead of emphasising social and economic problems in the country, ‘quickly turned into threats of group violence and rape against specific women’.
‘We cannot be silenced with threats and hate’, ‘Solidarity, Liberty, Equality’, ‘End violence against women’, ‘Rape is torture’, ‘We will not tolerate oppression and violence’, banners of the demonstrators said.
[Read OC Media’s analysis: Who was in and who was out in Tbilisi’s far-right March of Georgians]
After marching through Aghmashenebeli Avenue, the demonstrators gathered at Marjanishvili Square. In several short speeches, activists railed against the problems that women — especially women with disabilities and socially vulnerable women — face in Georgia, criticised rape culture, and demanded that a law be passed against sexual harassment.