website statistics

Georgia's 'Virginity Institute' is not a chastity school for southern belles

The "Virginity Institute" refers to the taboo of pre-marital sex for women in the Republic of Georgia.

I think in English you might call it 'The Institution of Virginity," and 77 percent of survey respondents, including women, agreed with it. In 2009.

Some excerpts from the report on Eurasianet.org:

“We have two morals in this country: one for men and another for women,” said Tbilisi State University Gender Studies Professor Nino Javakhishvili. “Premarital sex is not only tolerated, but even encouraged for men, while it is frowned upon for women.”

An August 2009 survey by the Tbilisi-based Caucasus Research Resource Centers reported that 77 percent of respondents think it is unacceptable for a woman to have sex before marriage. The belief is rooted both in Georgia’s conservative culture and the Georgian Orthodox faith, which does not discriminate between men and women on the topic.

Gender researchers say that the country’s culture of abstinence prompts many young Georgians to marry simply to obtain license to engage in sex. As a result, baby-faced married couples are often found walking around holding babies of their own, commented Tamar Sabedashvili, United Nations Development Fund for Women Gender Advisor in Georgia.

“There is a direct connection between the virginity institute and early marriages in Georgia,” Sabedashvili said. “Often these marriages have to do with sex, more than anything else."

“Sometimes a girl is so convinced that her mission is to get married [and] that the earlier she achieves this, the sooner she feels self-realized,” Guliashvili said. “When from a very early age, a girl is told that her true mission [in life] is to be a wife and a mother, even when grown-up she may never start asking if she is fully enjoying the rights that she has."

[18-year-old student Nutsa] Avaliani agrees that such pressures may influence her thinking about marriage, but says she does not want to end up like a 25-year-old friend whom she terms a spinster. “I really want to get married and have kids very soon, and I think that is what every woman wants,” she said.

Thanks to Caucasus-watcher Jono for the link. Traditional wedding ceremony image by Paata Vardanashvili from Tbilisi, Georgia.