“This is how everyone in my family lived and I am going to do the same because I think it is the right way.” Gender researchers say that the country’s culture of abstinence prompts many young Georgians to marry simply to obtain license to engage in sex.
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Georgian women may shrug their shoulders and laugh about “the virginity institute,” but many still willingly play by its rules.
“This may look silly to somebody in the West, but people make choices in life according to their cultures,” said 18-year-old student Nutsa Avaliani.
“The young couples often discover that this is not one and the same.” Recent data suggest that young unions are in decline, but still popular.
In the past two years, the median age for first marriages has grown older in Georgia -- 26.8 years old for men and 25.1 years old for women, according to the Georgian National Statistics Service.Critics -- who often resort to social networking or dating websites to try to hook up with “Natashas” from the North --reject the “institute” as a legacy of a pre-modern mindset.“Sex is something you do in Ukraine, Russia or some other place where people are grown-up about this, while here you just get married,” grumbled twenty-something cellist Vakhtang Gabisonia.“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.” Student 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.Men and women “dadian” (“walk together regularly”) or “khvdebian” (“meet’). Most Georgians live with their parents before marriage and romantic visits are not tolerated at home.