From Child Bride to Future Police Officer

While law enforcement systems across the globe struggle to assist women victims of violent crimes every day – this is the story of how prompt action and cooperation between multiple state agencies saved a young women’s future.

This is a story with a happy end. However, unlike old-fashioned fairy tales, the happy ending here is not a wedding followed by “ever after,” but the absence of such wedding and a bright “ever after” for a young woman named Chinara Kojaeva.

She did not have much time left. The wedding was planned for Thursday, in two days. Dress, invitations, menu, guests – all the preparations were underway to marry this underaged woman to a man she barely knew. Her father made the decision based on financial motives. He attempted to do the same two years earlier. Back then he promised not to do it again until she was 18.

Meanwhile, in the capital, the Human Rights Protection and Monitoring Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia received a letter from the Public Defender’s Office describing Chinara’s situation and asking to take immediate action. These two public entities have been in successful cooperation since the establishment of the Ministry’s Human Rights Department in 2018. Learning the urgency of the situation, the Department representatives decided to take immediate action by traveling to Chinara’s village of Dedophlistskaro.

Social Service Agency and the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports of Georgia were two other institutions that were immediately engaged in the case. A volunteer teacher in the village knew about Chinara’s family, as she had to refer them to the police earlier in 2016 for a similar attempt of marrying a child. 

While Chinara and her parents were summoned for interrogation together, police officers were able to talk to her alone in the presence of the social worker. The girl was quite confused. Although Chinara confirmed her father had been forcing her into marriage. This was enough evidence for the police officers to issue a restraining order, launch an investigation, and reallocate a young woman to a state-shelter.

Despite the social pressure from her community, in the shelter, she firmly decided that an entirely new life had to begin. Chinara got involved in a rehabilitation program, started taking a Georgian language course (she is a representative of ethnic minority and did not speak Georgian before), and entered a few vocational education courses provided at the shelter.

As a result of the investigation, Chinara’s father was sentenced to two-years for forcing her minor daughter to marry. Realizing that her father went to jail was emotionally quite heavy for the young woman. However, she went through it and was even able to restore relationships with partners at a later stage. The father apologized profoundly, the daughter forgave.

Currently, Chinara considers herself an empowered survivor who is in control of her future. She moved to the capital, has a job she likes, and is preparing for state exams to enter university. She says she wants to become a police officer to protect people and support others in the same way that she was supported.

Our Good Human Human Rights Story 2019: Ensuring healthy lives for all

Equal access to health care services – Universal Health Coverage: Right to health is a fundamental part of human rights. Enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health is essential for building quality lives for everyone. Universal health coverage (UHC) is crucial for achieving the Sustainable Development Goal 3 and is an important way to expand access to effective health-care services, reduce financial hardship during illness and improve health outcomes. The Universal Health Care Program launched by the Government of Georgia in 2013 has led to a major expansion in population entitlement to publicly financed health services, from 29% to over 94% of the population. The UHC reform has improved access to health care. Financial barriers have declined, mainly for outpatient visits and hospital care and therefore, utilization of health services has been increased. Until 2013, the number of outpatient visits did not exceed 2 visits per person annually; in 2013 the number of visits rose till 2.7 and in 2018 till 3.7 and exceeded the level recommended by the World Bank for developing countries.

Hepatitis C Elimination Program in Georgia: Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is a major public health burden in many parts of the world, including Georgia. According to the population-based seroprevalence survey of 2015 an estimated 7.7% of Georgian population was living with hepatitis C virus (HCV) and the prevalence of active disease was 5.4%. Interferon-based treatment options were complex and poorly tolerated. Recognizing the growing HCV burden, financial barriers for population to receive modern treatment regimens and expensive medications, the Government of Georgia stepped up its efforts to combat this extremely dangerous public health threat through elimination of Hepatitis C and started intensive negotiations with different stakeholders. As a result, in 2015 an HCV Elimination Program was launched. Since the launch of the program, 1.7 million people were screened for Hepatitis C virus, more then 59 000 out of registered patients (61 000) have started treatment with sofosbuvir, sofosburiv/ledipasvir, sofosbuvir/velpatasvir-based treatment regimens and around 55 000 patients completed treatment. SVR was achieved in 98% cases. Through universal access to HCV diagnostics and treatment, HCV burden in Georgia is gradually being eliminated. The project itself is the best example of the successful public-private partnership.

Our Good Human Rights Story 2018: Reforms in the penitentiary system: No more torture and epidemic in Georgian jails

The core challenge for the new Georgian Government since October 2012 has been the legacy of politicised, repressive criminal justice system and an extremely poor human rights record it inherited. Systemic disregard of human rights by the state had a devastating effect on the penitentiary system. The policy embraced by the Government has aimed at ensuring maximum protection of the rights of inmates, eradicate torture and inhuman treatment, improve imprisonment conditions and promote re-socialization/rehabilitation.

The intensive efforts are taken to provide decent living conditions in the penitentiary system; some of the facilities are closed down due to inappropriate conditions; minimum living space per prisoner increased from 2 to 4 square meters. As a result of improved early conditional release mechanisms and the amendments introduced to the relevant legislation, the prison population reduced from 24 114 (as of December 2011) to 9 500. The overall objective of the penitentiary system is to keep inmates physically and mentally in good state of health through engaging them in different activities. This policy is pursued to promote their readiness to get back to normal life with less risk of reoffending. Currently penitentiary system offers a wide range of VET programs, psycho-social therapy, general, and higher education through distance learning, also various employment opportunities. Moreover, the platform – helps inmates to sell their handmade items online and get income directly to their bank accounts.