YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — After years of foot-dragging and indecision, the Armenian authorities plan to enact soon a special law aimed at combatting domestic violence and helping its predominantly female victims.
Violence against women had for decades been a taboo subject in the socially conservative and male-dominated Armenian society. It has been receiving growing publicity in recent years thanks to the activities of women’s rights groups backed by international human rights watchdogs.
According to the Yerevan-based Women’s Resource Center, more than 50 Armenian women have been beaten to death and killed otherwise by their husbands or other relatives in the last five years. “This trend shows no signs of decline,” said a representative of the group, Anahit Simonian. “I think this is a very serious number and this process [of enacting a law] must not drag on further.”
Justice Minister Davit Harutiunian expressed serious concern over these figures on October 5. “Violence is not the foundation of a real and strong Armenian family,” he told a news conference.
Harutiunian said that the Armenian government intends to tackle the problem with a law drafted by the Justice Ministry last year. Both he and another senior ministry official, Gohar Hakobian, expressed hope that the bill will be debated and passed by the parliament soon.
If passed, the bill will introduce criminal and administrative liability for specific cases defined as domestic violence. It would also obligate the state to protect victims by providing them with special shelters or banning their violent spouses from approaching them and even their children.