Rustavi office of GYLA assists a single mother to receive alimony for children and protect their rights

Our respondent is a single mother. As a result of the conflict, she separated from her husband and, together with her children, faced an unexpected reality.

“My family was broken and it turned out that my ex-husband had re-registered property before our separation, and given some things away behind my back. I needed a lawyer’s help with regards to children’s alimony and the determination of the place of residence. I have no legal experience in the given issues. So far GYLA’s team played a vital role for me, we are thankful to each member of it. They are doing invaluable work. I didn’t even know what requests I was authorized to have, or how much the law would support me. The team of Young Lawyers Association played a very big role in our lives”, – we do not name the respondent by the decision of the editorial office.

The single mother says that many citizens lack the information on the services that similar organizations propose free of charge for them:

“Ordinary citizens are unaware of the existence of such organizations.  The work they carried out cannot be underestimated. Salaries in Georgia are not sufficient to cover all needs. In these terms, it is a great benefit that they work for free, enthusiastically and wholeheartedly stand by the side of citizens in everything.”

“Young Lawyers Association” was founded in 1995. The organization has eight regional offices. One of them works in Rustavi and serves to protect human rights throughout Kvemo Kartli.

Natia Kokiashvili, head of the Rustavi office, explains how important the operation of the organization is for the region. She recalls the projects that were implemented with the support of donor organizations in different periods: “We had a lot of projects. Carrying out external consultations, we also had car-tours giving  us the opportunity to meet the residents door-to-door and inform them on their rights. We also practiced advocacy.

Even today, we continue this activity in cooperation with various non-governmental organizations like “American Corner”. Personally, I am involved in the part of raising awareness, which includes visits to non-Georgian-language schools and conduction the meetings on the topic of the problems related to early and forced marriages. Also, raising awareness on children’s rights. This activity has been carried out for the last three to four years.

Today, when the non-Georgian-speaking community became active, the credit should be given to the civil sector. The establishment of the numerous initiative groups is welcomed

Community organizations and children are also actively engaged in the process.

I think that it is thanks to us, the civil sector, that today there is no massive outflow of girls from schools. The statistics from five years ago, when no girls went to school past grade 9, were disturbing. It is to our credit that under-18 marriage has been prohibited in the Civil Code against the background of these sad statistics.

Surely, even today there are fact of coercion of marriage and this problem still remains, but it does not have a massive character”, – Natia Kokiashvili, the head of GYLA Rustavi office.

At this point, lawyers from the Rustavi Young Lawyers Association work on eight cases in progress. Among them, there are 5 criminal cases and 3 civil cases.

As the head of Rustavi’s office said, citizens come to the office every day to get legal aid.

From 2021 to the present, just the Rustavi office provided 4,300 legal consultations and prepared 400 legal documents. It should be noted that 90% of cases initiated by GYLA result in a victory for the victims.

“Citizens come every day with various problems, mainly referred to the civil administration. We have relationships with many citizens  having bank liabilities as well as  lawsuits on alimony obligations

A representative of the public defender in Kvemo Kartli contacts us almost on weekly   bases and sends non-Georgian-speaking citizen for assistance on the matters of divorce and alimony. Of course, we actively help these citizens within the frame of  administrative proceedings, We are addressed mainly  on the matters of law offences . We also support disabled people. Now we have a case regarding the termination of the disability status to minor with autistic spectrum. On the bases of what we know on the case, we consider that the termination of this status is illegal. We are in the process of requesting information and will give the appropriate course to this case. Furthermore, there are too many labor disputes, especially from private institutions, where people are dismissed completely illegally we have successfully completed many labor disputes. We also have museum cases. GYLA handles the case of three beneficiaries dismissed from the Ministry of Culture. We think that this case should be successfully completed”, – Natia Kokiashvili. We also asked Head of GYLA Rustavi office, her opinion on so called “Russian Law” which the government was trying to adopt.

“The introduction of this law was disgraceful. We would never support it. We even would not go into a discussion of the content of the law.  Because if majority epilates on the fact that the law was aimed at transparency, the civil sector and independent media are absolutely transparent in their scope of activities.

The submitted nine-article draft law,contained such information and required the commitment that is already covered by various legal norms. Likely, the registration of a non-entrepreneurial non-commercial person, according to the charter, must be registered with its content, also, the revenue service can absolutely easily determine who receives what income and where this income is received from.

We witnessed the engagement and awareness of the youth. While the first reading of this bill, I had a meeting in school on children’s rights, and although I was informing them about the content of the Code of Children’s Rights, they asked me, what was my reaction to this bill, and these were 9th-10th grade students and the fact that they showed their interest in political course of the country was amazing.

We have grown up in the meantime, alongside these controversies, and the next generation will certainly not allow the governing  team to let their opinion be the only driving force for decision-making.

And the most important is that as they said they would start to communicate with the public and inform about the terms and the fundamentals of the law. This is the most painful. If they were communicating with the people, they probably would not have initiated this law; because they would understand what people truly want? The withdrawal of the law took place due to the reaction of the people and the civil sector.

Unfortunately, our Members of Parliament, who represent the majority, used the slogan that – the European Union is not our goal in itself.

The European Union is our very purpose. We want development and we want a future generation that shares European goals. I also have minor children, 16 and 17 years old, who are involved in a number of projects and are happy that they are carrying out the work through which they have received education and awareness. They are eager to increase their cooperation with developed countries”, – Natia Kokiashvili, GYLA Rustavi office.

Author: Nino Beridze

The article was created with the support of the Civil Society Institute, within the framework of the project “Civil Society Initiative: Sustainable, Open and Accountable Civil Society Organizations for the Development of Georgia” funded by the European Union and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation. Kvemo Kartli media is solely responsible for its content and it may not reflect the views of the EU and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation.

The project is implemented by a consortium led by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS) together with the following non-governmental organizations – Center for Strategic Research and Development of Georgia (CSRDG), Civil Society Institute (CSI), Counseling and Training Center (CTC), Education Development and Employment Center (EDEC) and European Institute of Policy (IEP).