Archive for the 'Violence against women' Category

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Armenia’s Police Responds to Domestic Violence Petition

A response from Armenia’s police regarding a domestic violence petition is hopeful but confusing.

A letter addressed to me signed by the head of Armenia’s national police headquarters Eduard Ghazaryan states that the petition addressed to the Prime Minister (demanding, in part, justice in the death of Zaruhi Petrosyan, a victim of domestic abuse) has been received by Armenia’s police and forwarded to the Investigative Service within Armenia’s Ministry of Defense (an agency created in late 2008, according to an interview by the unit’s chief Armen Harutyunyan) for “discussing it in the framework of criminal case 44112310.”

The unit, according to its chief, is set to investigate crimes committed by contract-based servicemen of Armenia’s army while on duty.

Zaruhi Petrosyan’s husband Yanis Sarkisov (who killed Zaruhi with his mother)  is a contract-based serviceman in the Armenian military. But was he on duty when he murdered his wife?

At first, I took the letter as a positive sign.

It is awkward, however, that the military investigators are looking into the case of domestic violence.

They do not have, as far as I understand, any authority to prosecute Zaruhi’s other killer – the mother-in-law – neither do they seem to have authority to investigate the possibility of the brother-in-law’s involvement (two specific demands that our petition made).

Zaruhi’s Petition

Little over three weeks ago, a 20-year-old Armenian woman named Zaruhi Petrosyan was killed by her husband and his mother. Zaruhi’s death ended her 2-year ordeal of domestic abuse and will – one hopes – be the start of finally passing the domestic violence legislation. Armenia has promised the latter since November 2008, when Amnesty international issued a report on domestic violence in Armenia (my very first Global Voices Online post summarized reactions to it) stating that more than a quarter of Armenian women are victims of physical brutality in their own homes. The government of Armenia was reminded of the need for legislation this week through a petition signed by 3,196 individuals.  Below is an email I sent to the signatories of the petition after closing it:

Dear Friends:

Thanks to you, Armenia’s Prime Minister has received a petition signed by over 3,000 individuals calling for justice in the death of Zaruhi Petrosyan – a fair prosecution of her abusers and expedited passage of domestic violence punishment and prevention legislation.

The email to the Prime Minister’s office consists of a two-page introductory letter (in Armenian) to the petition, the petition results (a .pdf document with your signatures and comments mostly in English), and the draft law on domestic violence (in Armenian) that was submitted to the government earlier.

Many of you signed the letter because of your justified anger over Zaruhi’s brutal murder. Hopefully, you will continue fighting domestic violence in Armenia and everywhere around the world. To stay informed about developments on our petition and future action on domestic violence in Armenia, you may check my website at or email me at [email protected]. Finally, I’d like to thank key individuals and organizations who helped with the petition, including Susanna Vardanyan, president of Women’s Rights Center in Armenia, for her guidance and support; Hasmig Tatiossian for co-managing the signatures and organizing the “Zaruhi Petrosyan is my daughter” Facebook campaign; Adrine Akopyan for creating the “Please Sign the Petition for Zaruhi and Other Victims” Facebook event; and bloggers and journalists for covering the petition in their reports and posts (including at EurasiaNet, MediaLab (in Armenian), Tert (in Armenian), Panorama (in Armenian), The Armenian Weekly, Global Voices Online, Ditord, ArmeniaNow (Armenian version), Hetq Online,  ArmTown (in Armenian), 168 Hours (in Armenian) etc.). Again, thank you for taking the time to sign the petition.

If I receive correspondence from Armenia’s government on the petition, I will post it here.

Azerbaijan: Violence against Women

After quickly glancing at the Russian-language online publication, I came across to an overwhelming number of articles dealing with violence again women in Azerbaijan.  This week alone, the publication covers a woman killed by her  nephew, a man in prison for having killed his wife, a mother beaten to death by her son, and a 21-year-old in court for having raped his 15-year-old sister.


And this all in a country of less than 9 million people.


Azerbaijan’s neighbor Armenia was condemned by Amnesty International for inaction against domestic abuse last week.

Amnesty Int’l Reports Violence Against Women in Armenia

An 8-page report by Amnesty International documents widespread domestic violence and sexual abuse of women in Armenia. According to the findings, while one in four Armenian women are physically violated by family members, many more are psychologically abused.

Worst of all, violence against women is a taboo in Armenia, with all-male government agencies reluctant to investigate “private matters” and women afraid to report abuse in the first place. Moreover, the report says that many women in Armenia help perpetuate the widespread abuse by treating violence as normal. Amnesty quotes an infamous Armenian saying that translates, “A woman is like wool; the more you beat her, the softer she’ll be.”

The government of Armenia in essence denies that domestic abuse is an issue in the Republic, although there has been some talk by officials about change. There are still no laws that deal with the issue.

This conventional violence in Armenia, as the report carefully suggests, has translated into people not carrying about human trafficking.

Native American Women Grossly Violated

© Blogian 2007 – Pow Wow Native American Festival in Denver

In July 2006 an Alaska Native woman in Fairbanks reported to the police that she had been raped by a non-Native man. She gave a description of the alleged perpetrator and city police officers told her that they were going to look for him. She waited for the police to return and when they failed to do so, she went to the emergency room for treatment. A support worker told Amnesty International that the woman had bruises all over her body and was so traumatized that she was talking very quickly. She said that, although the woman was not drunk, the Sexual Assault Response Team nevertheless “treated her like a drunk Native woman first and a rape victim second”. The support worker described how the woman was given some painkillers and some money to go to a non-Native shelter, which turned her away because they also assumed that she was drunk: “This is why Native women don’t report. It’s creating a breeding ground for sexual predators.”

The paragraph above is from a study by Amnesty International, released on April 24, 2007, that has concluded, “One in three Native American or Alaska Native women will be raped at some point in their lives. Most do not seek justice because they know they will be met with inaction or indifference.”

© Blogian 2007 – Pow Wow Native American Festival in Denver

According to the report, Native American women are about 3 times more likely to be raped in America than other women.  Moreover,

According to the US Department of Justice, in at least 86 per cent of reported cases of rape or sexual assault against American Indian and Alaska Native women, survivors report that the perpetrators are non-Native men. (This is in the case when most rapes in America are perpetrated by the same racial group – Blogian.)

The violation against Native American women is shocking and reminds of all the trouble and suffering that these people have been going through for hundreds of years.  Reading Lakota Woman earlier this year – a book by Mary Crow Dog about her experience as a Native American woman – I could not believe that even in the 1970s there was cultural genocide going on against the Natives.   But it turns out it is going on today, in 2007.

© Blogian 2007 – Pow Wow Native American Festival in Denver

I think the rape of Native American women is continuation of the cultural genocide.  But whatever you name it, it is happening and needs immediate reaction, especially given the Amnesty International charge that the US government is to blame for not protecting these women and children.

Interestingly, I brought similar topic up with my Native American studies professor Glenn Morris two weeks ago when I asked him what was the situation with human trafficking among Native American reservations (having found out about domestic human trafficking in the US, I had figured out that most vulnerable of US communities – the “Indian” reservations – would be a source for violating women and children).  Prof. Morris didn’t know whether there was human trafficking, but he said there were lots of rape.

The full study is available at