Sunday, June 28, 2015

Finding divorce hard to justify

By Maya Komakhidze

[Note:  Social Science in the Caucasus is publishing the work of six young researchers who entered CRRC-Georgia’s Junior Fellowship Program (JFP) in February 2015. This is the third blog post in the series. Click here to see the first and second blog posts in the series.]

A study carried out by the UNDP in 2013 shows that traditional views of gender roles persist in Georgia – women primarily view themselves as housewives, spouses and mothers. Unsurprisingly, in the focus group discussions conducted within the framework of the National Research on Domestic Violence project, respondents associated divorce with “disaster,” “the end of the world” and the shame of a woman returning to her parents’ home after divorce. Female focus group participants stated that a woman should not think of divorce unless violence against her becomes intolerable. In contrast to these attitudes, the official number of divorces has increased in Georgia between 2006 and 2014. This blog post explores Georgians’ views on divorce using data from the CRRC Caucasus Barometer (CB) survey. As previous studies highlighted the changing values of young respondents who “no longer blindly follow traditions” and “do not tolerate from their husbands what their grandmothers and mothers put up with,” the blog post briefly discusses the attitudes of younger Georgians as well.

Slightly over half of the Georgian population reports that divorce is not justified, and this attitude did not markedly change between 2011 and 2013. Nationwide, differences by age groups are within the confidence interval. Differences by gender are also within the confidence interval. Differences by settlement type, on the other hand – namely, differences in the opinions of the population of the capital and the rest of the country – are obvious. The population of the capital demonstrates markedly higher acceptance of divorce compared with those living in other urban and rural settlements.

Note: Answer options to the question, “To what extent can getting a divorce be justified or not?” were re-coded for this and the following chart from a 10-point scale into a 3-point scale, with original options 1 through 4 corresponding to the option “cannot be justified,” 5 and 6 “sometimes justified,” and 7 through 10 “can be justified.”

The chart below shows the answers of the residents of different settlement types broken down by age group. Residents of the capital in all age groups differ in their views from the residents of other urban and rural settlements. In addition, the difference of opinion between younger and older generations is more pronounced in the capital, but less so in other settlements. This suggests that acceptance of divorce in Georgia is more closely related to where a person lives, rather than what generation a person belongs to, although age does appear to be an important factor.

Overall, disapproval of divorce remains strong in Georgia, and more than half the population thinks it cannot be justified. The views of people residing in the capital diverge markedly from the views of rural and urban residents, the most tolerant group being young residents of the capital. Still, despite the younger respondents of  the previous studies, who “no longer blindly follow traditions,” this seems to be the case predominantly in the capital, since young people outside Tbilisi generally do not approve of divorce.

For more information on the Caucasus Barometer data, take a look at the CRRC’s Online Data Analysis tool.

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