Human rights advocates demand the timely adoption of a new law, though they believe it’s no less important to change people’s mindset
Photo: Gevork Ghazaryan, JAMnews
“More than 50 women were killed in Armenia over the past 5 years,” said Anahit Simonyan, a program coordinator at the Women’s Resource Center Armenia. As she reported, dozens of women are killed annually as a result of domestic violence, hundreds of them are physically abused and thousands keep living in fear.
“We can’t let the situation go that way. The government should provide the necessary mechanisms so as to prevent new cases of domestic violence in future,” stressed Anahit Simonyan.
Armenia so far has no law providing a foundation for the prevention of domestic violence.
The Armenian Justice Minister agrees that the official data on domestic violence is alarming. According to David Harutyunyan, the stories which have been brought forward are certainly horrifying, but there are also hidden cases of violence that are equally appalling.
The minister believes that if a bill on the prevention of domestic violence and protection of domestic violence victims is passed in Armenia, it will expose more problems and make it easier to solve them.
“An image of a tightly-knit, true Armenian family doesn’t imply violence,” said the Justice Minister.
The bill has been brought forward for public discussion and has been available on the Justice Ministry’s website (e-draft.am) for two weeks already. One can familiarise oneself with the bill, express one’s opinion and take a vote on it until 9 October. So far 565 people have voted in favor of the draft law while 502 people voted against it.
What raises human rights advocates’ concerned is that, as many people believe, the bill is not suitable for a traditional Armenian family and can even ruin it.
Meanwhile, the draft law clearly indicates in which cases the state will provide shelter to a woman who has left her home after falling victim to domestic violence.
The law also regulates the circumstances under which an abuser can be forced to leave their home and be prohibited from approaching the victim.
The organizations dealing with the protection of women’s rights insist on the timely adoption of this law. Yet they believe it’s hardly enough to reduce domestic violence rates. In their opinion, it’s equally important to change the public’s perception, including the victim’s attitude towards her situation. A person shouldn’t put up with violence,” says Zaruhi Hovhannisyan, the Coordinator of the Coalition to Stop Violence Against Women.