Georgian Ombudsman calls to ban young girls’ marriage after suicide of teenager

Early marriage among young teenage girls was still an existing practice in Georgia., 24 Mar 2014 - 15:38, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgia’s Public Defender is calling for a law to ban young teenage girls from falling victim to early marriage and offer more protection and assistance to those in need.

Ucha Nanuashvili’s strong statement in support of girls’ rights comes less than a week after a teenage girl committed suicide to avoid an unwanted early marriage.

In today’s statement, Nanuashvili emphasized that an early marriage among young teenage girls was still an existing practice in Georgia and was expressed in the form of kidnapping with the aim of marriage following an agreement between parents.

"A number of recommendations concerning preventing early marriages were included in the Public Defender’s Parliamentary report in 2012 however no appropriate steps have been taken to tackle this problem,” the Ombudsman stated.

The issue was recently highlighted when a teenage girl committed suicide in the Kakheti Region on March 20. The girl, who lived in the Karajala village in the Telavi district, was believed to have ended her life to avoid committing to an unwanted early marriage.

"The situation in this regard is alarming and the whole society should realize the grievousness of this issue and feel the responsibilities related to the early marriages of dozens of young girls and violence against them,” Nanuashvili said.

After studying the issue, the Ombudsman’s Office revealed early involvement of competent authorities in situations where early marriage was occurring, and an effective response rate, was low. In many cases girls did not know where to turn when they were put under pressure.

To combat this societal problem, Nanuashvili believed it was important to reinforce activities aimed at increasing awareness of teachers, parents and law enforcement bodies about the damage early marriage can cause on young girls’, the cause of such behavior and update legal regulations in the country.