Salome lives in Tbilisi, Georgia. At 20, Salome was studying art at college, working as a tutor and content creator to support herself.
“That night I was walking back from tutoring. A man started catcalling me. Then he was right behind me. He was with two boys. Two of them caught me. The attack was 20 or 30 minutes.”
“I went to the police. They said I didn’t look like a decent family girl. It was February. I was wearing a long dress and a warm jacket. I was not wearing tights. They asked me repeatedly why I was not wearing tights. As if that would have changed anything.”
The police didn’t make it simple for her. They asked why she would want to report the attack – that no one would marry her and that making up rape was normal for women.
They made her go for a ‘virginity test’ to ascertain if her hymen was broken. “I had scratches and bruises on my body.” Only then did the police investigate. They found the boys and the man a few days later. He was a 23-year-old married father of two.
“A month later I felt very dizzy. I really did not think I was pregnant.” The police, not believing her, made her take a third test. One of Salome’s relatives paid for an abortion as at that time the state didn’t cover the costs of an abortion.
“It was very traumatizing for me. I began crying very loudly.” The pregnancy was taken into account as part of her case.
When her case went to court Salome was told little about the process. Court sessions would take place without her knowing and those she was asked to attend would often be canceled without warning.
“It felt like nobody was interested in me or how I felt.”
During the trial, Salome felt it was inferred she was to blame.
“I was asked, “Why were you out alone at night, what did you want?”
It was during the case that the perpetrator’s lawyer told Salome that the man’s family wanted her to marry him. “I laughed so much at this.”
Salome testified several times. Telling her story over and over.
The perpetrator denied raping her but was sentenced to 13 years in prison, and the boy six. “I think it is the right sentence. I was very happy when they were found guilty.”
“Women must go to the police if they are assaulted, to stop others from being attacked. And the police need to believe them. It shouldn’t matter who you are, or what you wear, or what you are doing in your life.”
After the trial, Salome published her story on a website, the aim of which is to uncover women’s stories that usually remain hidden in Georgia. She received a very positive response from survivors of rape or other types of abuse.
“I think things are getting better for women in Georgia. It is just step by step, but we are starting to talk about things.”