Tbilisi City Court ruled in favour of a woman on January 3 who was suing her former boss for sexual harassment, in a highly public and debated case. It is the first time in the history of the Georgian judiciary for a court to rule in favour of a person suing for sexual harassment.
Journalist and actress Tatia Samkharadze brought the case to court over a year ago against her former boss at the Imedi TV company, journalist and producer Shalva Ramishvili. She claims she was harassed by her boss while she was an employee at Imedi TV. Ramishvili has denied the charges. He and his lawyer did not attend the court hearing on January 3. The court ordered Ramishvili to pay Samkharadze 2,000 GEL for moral damages.
“When the judge announced the decision, I breathed freely for the first time in two years. Thanks to everyone for standing beside me, who believed in my truth… Fighting for truth always has a point. Victory lets you forget about all the pain, and pride is all that is left,” Samkharadze wrote the day after the court decision.
Baia Pataraia, the head of Georgian women’s rights organization Sapari Union, said it was a very important that the court assessed the case as sexual harassment as it is an unprecedented legal decision.
Sapari Union says the plaintiff is only receiving compensation for moral damages and not material damages because Samkharadze sued her former boss individually and not the TV company.
In court Samkharadze presented evidence of audio recordings between her and her former boss demonstrating sexual harassment. She said she had decided to record their conversations when the harassment became systemic.
Samkharadze worked both as a journalist and actress frequently appearing on TV. After leaving her job she started to appear in different social campaigns against sexual harassment and is now an activist.
Sexual harassment is not defined under Georgian law. Georgian Women’s Movement registered a petition in the Parliament of Georgia in October 2017 demanding to recognize sexual harassment as a form of discrimination in law.
Organizations in Georgia are joining global campaigns and discussions raising awareness about sexual harassment. UN Women office in Georgia released an anti-harassment commercial earlier this year encouraging women to speak out against harassment in the workplace: