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According to a 2017 study conducted by U.N. Women and the National Statistics Office of Georgia, one in seven women in Georgia has experienced domestic violence. Moreover, Georgia’s society has made it more difficult to find and help these women; the same study found nearly half the population believes domestic violence should be viewed as a private matter, and more than a third of women who are victims have never spoken about it.

While both the government and charities have offered programs since 2001, the services fall short of the need.

Mother Mariam, abbess of Tbilisi’s Transfiguration Convent, began helping single mothers in the 1990’s. At the time, little public awareness of the problem existed, nor did support from the government — emerging from the Soviet Union, Georgia’s economy collapsed, civil war raged and corruption destroyed the rule of law. Women had few options other than abortion or giving their children away, either to impoverished state institutions or human trafficking schemes.

“At that time, no one else was doing this job, which is why we had to do it,” says Mother Mariam, a well-known leader of Georgia’s dominant Orthodox church. “Our main goal was to save the children. The girls’ only recourse was abortion; they didn’t know where to go.

“When you encourage somebody to keep their child, you have to help.”

In line with these goals, the convent founded a home for mothers and their children outside of Tbilisi. They offered years of care, attempting to help the women overcome their hardships and provide them with training in any needed skills.

It was a difficult challenge for the convent, says Mother Mariam, as the sisters struggled to secure resources and guidance. Occupying the forefront of the issue, they could only do their best, listening closely to the needs of the mothers they tended. For example, the sisters were among the first to advocate that children remain with their mothers; at that time, the government believed the children of mothers who had either left their husbands or were single would be better off alone, in state care.

Today, there are more resources, a greater awareness and a deeper understanding of how to help the women and their children — especially among nongovernmental organizations, Mother Mariam said.

Indeed, child welfare specialists can point to several indicators that the situation is improving in the country. The 2017 U.N. Women study found that more and more women are using the resources available to leave abusive relationships and seek help for themselves and their children — some 18 percent of women in 2017, compared to just 1.5 percent in 2009. Each year, a greater number of women speak out.

“There is a very strong campaign against violence and for the rights of women in Georgia today,” says Gvantsa Bakradze, who coordinates the Caritas Georgia program at the St. Barbara Center.

Ms. Bakradze noted that the police have formed a separate department specially trained to deal with issues of violence against women.

“This is an ongoing process and the main thing is to change the attitude of people. Education and raising awareness are the most important things,” Ms. Bakradze says.

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