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Hopeless Single Parents

Do you know how many single parents live in Georgia?! Have you heard about their daily and social problems?! – maybe not in details. Neither the state notices them; they cope with their daily problems alone and because of stigma in the society they are often rejected by their close relatives too. There is one reason – child, who was born without marriage, who is not guilty in it at all and has not deserved to live in poverty.

Nana is single mother. Her family rejected her. The father of the child went to Israel when Nana was expecting Gaga. He promised he would take her and the child to Israel. However, 12 years have passed since then and he never appeared. At some point, Nana tried to contact him but in vain.

Since then, she had to overcome many difficulties and her situation now is not perfect either. Left without income, she decided to return to her parent’s home in Kvareli but they refused to accept her. She hoped for the father’s support but he also rejected her and he died without seeing his grandchild. Nana never received any support from other people either. She recalled that sometimes people called her nasty words in the street. Gaga was born in Kvareli maternity home and as she said, the doctors did not want to allow her take the child. Nana doubts they wanted to sell him.

“I would never have my son give away even if the family never accepted me and I had to stay in the street,” Nana said.

Later the family accepted her but the house in Kvareli was so damaged that they could not live there. The state gave two rooms to her father, as a former employee of the communication state company. She moved to Tbilisi with the family. Now her mother lives in one room and she in the second room together with her son and brother, who has Asthma.

They have two beds standing on the bricks, old fridge and a cupboard, piano and a small table; they have old linoleum flooring on the concrete floor – it is Nana’s 12 sq. meter room, where it is difficult even to move. The toilet and bathroom is at the end of the corridor and Nana cannot go to there at night. Nana sleeps in one bed with her son but does not know what to do.

In the past, she worked and had a good salary but due to worsened health conditions she had to quit job. Now her only income is 160 GEL social allowance. Also, she gets 90 GEL voucher for communal bills but in winter it is not enough.

“160 GEL is nothing; it is similar to 1.60 GEL. I have many expenses. The voucher for communal bills is not enough either and I have to add money. I give money to my brother to buy medicines because he cannot survive without it. The son needs a lot at school. At least we can get food at free canteen. You cannot imagine how much debts I have,” Nana said and looks through the electricity and natural gas bills.

She has problems with lungs, breast and head – regardless unbearable pains she dreams of operation on the lungs and wants take care of the son until “he manages to live independently.” Last year, the doctors at the oncological center requested 6 000 GEL for the operation on lungs. With the support of the City Hall and Healthcare Ministry she managed to collect only 3000 GEL. Neither the hospital made any discount to her and she could not be operated.

Although she officially holds status of a single mother, she cannot get any allowance for that.

Her son also has health problems: he has breathing problems and has dark spots on the brain. For that reason, he has strong headaches and often misses lessons at school. Besides that, Gaga has problems with eyesight after he had virus at the age of 4. The healthcare ministry funded the operation of the child.

“See how sweet baby he was,” Nana said and pointed at the calendar on the wall with the photo of Gaga at the age of about 2-3 years. “How I can treat him?! Even now I borrowed money to buy medicines for him. If he is operated on, I cannot buy medicines for post-operation treatment either.”

(the names of the woman and child are changed)

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Notation of the single parent first appeared in the Georgian legislation, namely in the Civil Code of Georgia (Article 11911) on December 11, 2014. According to the law, a single parent is a person, whose child was born without registered marriage and there is no data about the second parent in the birth certificate. Also, a single parent is a person, who adopts a child while he/she is not in registered marriage.

It is noteworthy that when a child turns 18 or the parent gets married, she/he loses status of single parent. Regardless the special provision in the law, which ensures social and legal defense for the single parent, none of the single parents in Georgia gets any social aid for the status. The only allowance is envisaged under Article 82 Part II of the Tax Code, according to which the single mother does not pay income tax. There are 431 single mothers who do not pay income tax in Georgia. It should be noted that the law envisages this benefit only for women while the single fathers are discriminated in comparison to single mothers.

As the nongovernmental organization Human Rights Development Fund (HRDF) was notified from the Healthcare and Social Service Unit of the Tbilisi City Hall, they do not have funds to assist the single parents. However, they can get allowances from the programs of socially vulnerable people. That means, if a single parent wants to get assistance from the state, he/she shall get status of socially indigent person. However, we face another obstacle here – in accordance to the Law of Georgia on State Pension, a person cannot get two or more allowance together. Consequently, if the government decides to fix some allowance for the single parents, he/she will no longer get allowance as socially indigent person or vice versa.

The fact that the State Services Development Agency started to process the statistic about single parents after the HRDF applied to them for the information, demonstrates that the single mother is not priority for the state. In accordance to the information sent to the HRDF by the Ministry of Justice, 1222 persons had applied to the Agency for the single parent’s status. Only 5 of them were man. As for the satisfactory criteria, only 1056 of them received the status – 1047 of them are women, 2 – men and 7 are underage.