AYF-YOARF Celebrates International Women’s Day on March 8

Sireli Ungerner,

International Women’s Day (IWD) is commemorated on March 8, celebrating the economic, political, and social achievements of women in the past, present, and future. IWD is officially recognized by the United Nations and in 27 countries, including Armenia.

IWD has existed for more than 100 years and is the product of an era marked by rapid change in the industrial world. As the global population grew, the demand for labor increased and new ideologies took shape, thrusting women into a brave new world of challenges.

While women have made great strides, a gender equality gap still exists all over the world. This year, the theme for IWD is “Inspiring Change,” in an effort to both celebrate achievements thus far and motivate for continued action in the future. This action requires the participation of everyone, including men. According to the World Health Organization, men can play a critical part in reducing domestic violence and increasing communication about contraception, children’s health, and social support for wives and partners.

The AYF-YOARF Central Executive and Central Hai Tahd Committee want to shed light on the issue of domestic violence against Armenian women to raise awareness for IWD. The following articles are meant to educate and inspire our membership on the severe problems affecting half our population, although this is not a holistic view of women in Armenia. We provide this information for you to educate yourself and others in hopes of fighting these injustices and working toward a brighter future for women in the Homeland and the Diaspora. As an organization, we stand in solidarity with women in the struggle for equality.

Ungeragan Cherm Parevnerov,

AYF-YOARF Central Executive

AYF-YOARF Central Hai Tahd Committee

 

WOMEN IN ARMENIA

Overview of Women in Armenia

http://www.unitedhumanrights.org/2010/05/domestic-violence-against-women-in-armenia

http://asbarez.com/112290/women%E2%80%99s-group-details-domestic-violence-deaths-in-armenia/

These articles provide a brief overview of the status of women in Armenia, including:

  • Commentary on the social and economic structure that contributes to violence against women in Armenia, particularly a social structure dictated by a traditional patriarchal society and fulfillment of gender stereotypes
  • History of violence against women in Armenia and why it exists
  • The legal system- laws that do not exist and corruption in the legal system, including lack of restraining order policies, discriminatory attitudes of officials, victim-blaming, and officials accepting bribes to sway the outcome of legal action
  • The type of abuse women in Armenia endure- physical (as serious as death) and psychological (mental and emotional torture):
    • “‘[Violence] takes the form of brute physical force, beatings, sexual torture (including being forced to engage in sexual activity against one’s will), authoritarian control (imprisoning the victim in the home, controlling contacts with others including family members, controlling all finances including access to food and clothing, etc.) and psychological abuse (constant degrading, insulting comments, threats, sadistic or controlling manipulation of the victims fears and vulnerabilities, “cat-and-mouse” toying with needs and expectations, threats against the children, etc.)”
  • Traditional view that violence against women is a private family matter of one’s personal life and should not be discussed publicly
  • Women’s own beliefs of their societal role- “abuse is a normal part of marriage,” social disgrace of divorce, lack of education about their right to a life without domestic abuse, and unemployment and pressure to be a “housewife”
  • Steps taken and what needs to be done- “16 Days of Action Against Gender Violence,” acknowledgement and awareness of the problem, educational and respect for  women

 

Zaruhi Petrosyan

http://www.armenianweekly.com/2010/10/10/domestic-abuse/

This article explains the story of Zaruhi Petrosyan, a woman who was beaten to death by her husband and mother-in-law in Armenia in 2010. The perpetrators covered up their violent actions by claiming she fell down the stairs and crushed her bones. This was not an isolated incident. Zaruhi had experienced violence on a daily basis, and she was subject to death threats when she separated from her husband and went to live with her sister. Though it was reported to the police, and the police wrote that they would take him in if he continued his violent acts, they chose to ignore the situation when the time came. They claimed her situation was “unimportant and irrelevant.” As displayed in the article, even Armenian women resist activism in an effort to maintain the image of a “traditional Armenian woman.” As a news story, the event brought the issue of domestic violence to the forefront in Armenia, and many activist groups have been working harder than ever to achieve justice for Zaruhi and all the women who experience this violence and terror on a daily basis.

 

Maro Guloyan

http://www.armenianweekly.com/2013/06/26/til-death-do-us-part-suicide-reignites-demands-for-domestic-violence-legislation/

Maro Guloyan’s death in July of 2012 was dismissed by Armenian courts as suicide. However, numerous contradictions in her case and other injuries on her body suggest that her death may not have been the result of suicide, but rather would have been due to other violent acts. Maro’s husband, Gevorg, had a gambling addiction, and he and Maro would frequently argue about finances. She was often subject to physical violence. However, she never reported it, and had only begun to voice her concerns a few weeks prior to her death. The day of her death, she had vowed to separate from her husband and began making arrangements to leave that night. Civil society groups have begun to take action to re-open the case and bring it to the forefront of the media in an effort to continue their work for laws against domestic violence and to break the silence that surrounds these issues.

 

Organizations Working for Armenian Women

Other Organizations: UN Women, Amnesty International, Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights

These organizations have many different programs for the benefit of Armenian women in Armenia and in the Diaspora. The theme for International Women’s Day 2014 is “Inspiring Change.” While celebrating the achievements of women thus far, such as through the efforts of these organizations, we cannot ignore the social change that still needs to occur for true equality for women and all people. We must educate ourselves on these issues and stand together with these organizations; without their continuous hard work, we would not have come to where we are today.

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