TBILISI, DFWatch–A video allegedly depicting the forced engagement of an underage girl has sparked public outrage in Georgia and even in neighboring Azerbaijan, where the ombudsman asked her Georgian counterpart to get involved.
The case gained country-wide recognition after a video was posted on social media February 8 allegedly depicting the engagement party of a young girl.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs has already launched an investigation into the case. Representatives of non-governmental organizations and social workers are also involved in the process.
The family of the teenage girl, however, claims that the information circulating regarding the video is incorrect and that it does not show the 15 year old girl’s engagement party, but her birthday party. They maintain that her family, and the family of the boy appearing to be her fiance, agreed a few years ago that their children would get married, though that was not the final decision.
According to the family, the girl has suffered serious psychological trauma.
The ombudsman of Azerbaijan has also stepped into the case, as the participants in the alleged engagement are ethnic Azerbaijanis from the village Ponichala near Tbilisi. Azerbaijan’s Commissioner for Human Rights, Sabina Aliyeva, asked her Georgian counterpart, Nino Lomjaria, that the relevant government bodies investigate the incident and take all measures to protect the rights of these children, Azerbaijani media reports.
Meanwhile, the Public Defender’s Office of Georgia said in a statement that it has launched an inquiry into the video.
“Unfortunately, early and child marriages, as well as vicious engagement practices, are still common in Georgia. The cases examined by the Public Defender of Georgia show that the marriages are mostly forced and the result of illegal deprivation of liberty or an agreement between parents. The steps taken by the State, including in terms of prevention, fail to adequately respond to the challenges facing the country in this direction,” the statement released by PDO Tuesday reads.