Why Armenia isn't taking to the European convention against domestic violence – myths and refutals
By the end of the year, Armenia is supposed to ratify the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, better known as the Istanbul Convention.
However, the Armenian public is divided, and some are actively opposing the ratification of the document, although most are not even familiar with its content. The main argument of the opponents of the convention is that it contradicts national traditions and values.
JAMnews gives all the details of the convention, the arguments of those who oppose the convention – and the refutations.
Per the convention:
• The State is responsible for the prevention of all forms of violence against women, as well as for the protection of victims and the punishment of those responsible.
• The state should promote equality between men and women and prevent violence against women, encourage the resolution of conflicts in conditions of mutual respect and without violence, contribute to the elimination of gender stereotypes (including through educational materials).
• The state should investigate all allegations of violence and hold those responsible accountable
• The state should protect and support those who have been subjected to violence (for example, isolating the perpetrator and ensuring the safety of the victim by providing asylum).
• The state should provide victims with the opportunity to claim compensation, and if compensation cannot be paid, the state should provide it itself.
• Victims of violence should be aware of the support services that should be available to them.
• Police and justice officials must be retrained to properly protect the rights of victims and prevent further threats. They must respond appropriately to and manage dangerous situations.
The fight against ratification of the convention in Armenia
The fight against the convention began immediately after its signing, but the protests have escalated in the last six months. The government planned to ratify the convention in September 2019, but ratification has been delayed by the protests.
The opposition believes that domestic violence is not an issue in Armenia, and that the convention poses a threat to Armenian traditions and values.
In order to make the discussions more constructive, the Minister of Justice of Armenia Ruslan Badasyan met with the Catholicos of All Armenians Garegin II. A few days after the meeting, the church made a statement:
“The Convention contains inappropriate provisions”.
In parliament, the document continues to provoke discussion.
Some have proposed that in lieu of the Istanbul Convention, Armenia adopt its own “local” document on the prevention of domestic violence, one that leaves no room for ambiguity. The main concerns of MPS are the convention’s vague provisions, which, in their opinion, could open the door to same-sex unions and adoption.
In this regard, there was even a proposal to prohibit same-sex marriage.
However, the parliamentary commission on legal issues did not accept it, since article 35 of the constitution and article 1 of the “Family Code” already defines marriage as between a man and a woman.
Here is a list of the main arguments of the opponents of the convention.
the Istanbul Convention is contrary to the traditional model of the Armenian family.
In fact, the convention does not regulate family life or its structure, and states are not forced to change traditional ideas about the family.
traditions and values are at stake.
In fact, the convention only notes that traditions, culture and religion cannot be an excuse for violence against women.
the word “gender” cannot replace the terms “woman” and “man”.
In fact, the word “gender” in the convention is used only to emphasize the fact that women are often subjected to violence because of their gender. The convention does not attempt to replace the terms “woman” and “man.”
the convention introduces the concept of “third gender”, which refers to members of sexual minorities or those who have changed sex.
In fact, the term “third sex” is never used in the text of the convention. There is also no compulsion to accept it. States only commit to protecting the rights of victims in any case of discrimination – including because of gender, race, language, age, marital status, sexual orientation, or gender identity.
the convention requires state approval of same-sex marriage.
In fact, the convention does not affect the local family law in any way; moreover, there is no mention of this in the convention. The reason for such manipulative statements is the use of the word “partner” in the text of the convention. Because of this, the opposition believes the document formalizes same-sex couples.
However, the union of “partners” can be considered any case where the relationship of the couple is not legally formalized by the State. In Armenia, there are many couples who get married in the church, but do not formalize their relations in the registry office, which actually makes them “partners”. This provision is important, because, according to the current legislation, an incident cannot be considered domestic violence if the partners are not married.
same-sex couples will be able to adopt children.
In fact, the adoption procedure is not considered at all in the convention. It is governed by local law.
the convention states that states must fight established gender stereotypes.
In fact, the convention says that states must combat gender stereotypes that can lead to violence. Among them, for example, is the opinion that a woman does not have the right to vote in the family, or the belief that her place is in the kitchen.
The eighth argument:
the Istanbul Convention is imposed on Armenia by Turkey, which committed the Armenian Genocide at the beginning of the last century.
In fact, the Convention was opened for signature in Istanbul, but has nothing to do with Turkish national politics or ideology.
Information about the convention
The document was approved in May 2011 in Istanbul, and has since been open for signature. In March 2012, Turkey was the first to sign it. It was followed by 46 member countries of the Council of Europe and the European Union. However, only 33 countries have ratified it.
Of the members of the Council of Europe, Russia and Azerbaijan refused to sign the document. And the Bulgarian Constitutional Court in July 2018 officially recognized it as unconstitutional.
The Armenian government approved the signing of the convention in December 2017. In January 2018 in Strasbourg, it was signed by the representative of Armenia in the Council of Europe, Ambassador Paruyr Hovhannisyan. It has not yet been ratified.