Violence against women is present everywhere, the issue is related to the authorities' response and Armenia has work to do in this issue, said US Ambassador John Heffern today during the 16-days of activism against gender-based violence discussion at the Media Center.
The ambassador noted that current Armenia law only has legislation punishing the perpetrator, however it does not include violence prevention and the issue of protecting the victim. Heffern gave importance to a law which would not only include criminal prosecution, but also violence prevention measures and supporting victims.
According to Heffern, the primary factor in contributing to the prevention of violence against women is a large scale public awareness, which is supported by public adverts around Yerevan and the provinces. While speaking about the fight against domestic violence public adverts filmed by Panarmenian Media Group, Heffern brought attention to the domestic violence hotline and called for women who have problems at home to not hesitate from raising those issues.
In the fight against domestic violence, Heffern believes that the state must work with NGOs and the media, as well as international organizations. He mentioned 7 staff members from the Armenian police’s newly created subdivisions who were trained in the US last year.
Heffern noted that domestic violence directly affects the country’s economy because there are additional costs, especially in the health sector.
“In the USA an appropriate law was passed in 1994 which subsequently led to saving millions of dollars,” said Heffern.
The Coalition to Stop Violence Against Women in Armenia, a group of NGOs that came together after the death of 20-year old mother Zaruhi Petrosyan, have presented a more comprehensive law on Domestic Violence for the past few years. The draft law has had difficulty becoming a relevant item on the government’s agenda and has not been accepted.