On October 16, the Human Rights Development Fund presented the Report about Single Parents and organized a photo-exhibition.
The Fund studied and analyzed both local and international legislations. At the same time, meetings with the single parents were organized intensively, to collect accurate information about their state. Different factors, including psychological ones, were also analyzed. As a result of the survey, several significant problems were identified.
The first major problem with regard to this issue is shortcomings in the legislation. Although the status of the single parent has been used since 2015, it is discriminative and does not allow all single parent to get the status. According to the statistics, provided by the Services Development Agency, by June 2017, 1719 persons hold single parent’s status in Georgia but their real number is much higher. It is noteworthy that comprehensive statistics about the single parents are not processed and neither the state acknowledges the needs of this community.
When we speak about the discrimination it is good to clarify who is the single parent in accordance to the present law:
- Parent, who is not in registered marriage, has underage child whose birth certificate does not provide information about the second parent;
- Parent, who has adopted underage child and is not in the registered marriage;
As we see, widows, divorced and those, whose children’s birth certificates provide information about the second parent, are left beyond the status though they also grow up their children alone. The fathers cannot get the status either, because the data about the mother is automatically written in the birth certificate of the child. Apart to that, there are cases when the woman, to protect herself from the negative attitude of the society, indicates the name of another person in the birth certificate. However, this man has no connection with the child and does not take care of him/her either. Consequently, it makes no difference why people grow up children alone, all of them shall have equal legal and social guarantees.
However, it should be noted that there is no assistance envisaged for those single parents either, who hold the status in accordance to the law. Regardless the legislative record (Part V of the Article 11911 of the Civil Code) which states that social and legal guarantees of the single parents are ensured under the law, it does not indicate which concrete law or by-law regulates the assistance for the single parents.
The only allowance is envisaged under the Article 82 of the Tax Code, which frees the single mother from the payment of income tax if her annual income is less than 3 000 GEL and it is envisaged only for the mothers. As for the single fathers, they are left without this benefit either.
Local governments establish allowances for the single parents according to their decisions. The allowances vary across the municipalities – single financial allowance, communal subsidies, granting priorities in educational institutions, etc. However, analysis of the obtained information revealed that only 25 out of 75 municipalities assist the single parents. At the same time, often the single parents get assistance depending on their social status.
It must be noted that 12 municipalities had discriminative record in the regulation acts and assisted only single mothers; however, based on the recommendations of the HRDF, they eliminated this discrimination.
The authors of the report surveyed the international practice too. The definition of the single parent in the legislations differs across the countries. But they all have one thing in common – all surveyed countries recognize a person to be a single parent if she/he grows up a child alone.
The HRDF elaborated the recommendations for relevant institutions:
- To study the conditions of the single parents in details and to estimate their needs;
- To widen the circle of the persons who may get the status and work out new criteria;
- To determine social and legal guarantees in accordance to the classifications (upon the analysis of the state and needs of the single parent);
- To give priorities to the children of the single parents during the registration in kindergartens/pre-school educational institutions and schools – to enable them to get registered out of turn;
- To create extra-hour classes for the children of the single parents;
- To actively work on the public awareness raising and create services to empower the single parents.
(See the miscarriages and recommendations in the report)
Member of the Legal Committee of the Parliament and head of the Working Group on the Issues of Single Parents Levan Gogichaishvili also attended the meeting on October 16. He said the report of the HRDF very well demonstrates the problems and this report may become a manual for the people working on this issue. He said soon the bill will be initiated in the parliament and the committee discussions will open.
“I am sure that this initiative will be supported in the Parliament. It is not easy to raise the issue in the parliament, which does not provide financial calculation and final impact. Similar researches will allow us to see how the law will work and what will be addressed. So, I think it is better to finalize the first stage and then move forward. So, what you are speaking about now, depends on funding. We cannot envisage these issues in the budget because it is already processed now. But in future, we may take it into account, particularly considering that our government’s policy is to delegate social issues to the local self-governments. Because there is better communication and less bureaucracy there and tasks are better executed. We can improve the legislation and leave the execution of the law to different institutions,” Levan Gogichaishvili said.
On October 16, the winners of the photo-competition were also announced and awarded. Tsia Labadze occupied the first place for the photo-reportage from Anaklia, where single father Mindia is growing up three underage children. Shio Khidasheli took the second place for the photo-reportage from Nasakirali village, where he described the life of the single mothers and their children. Eka Khaliani took the third place for the photo from Tsageri, where single father is growing up two underage children.
Human Rights Development Fund has been implementing the project “Advocating the Rights of Single Parents” for 1 year already with the financial support of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Georgia.