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Armenian Man Fined $100 for Subjecting Wife to Decade of Domestic Abuse

For over 11 years, Vardan Jamalyan, a resident of the village of Hayanist in Armenia's Ararat province, subjected his wife, Narine Zohrabyan, to serious incidents of domestic violence. In November, 2015, following yet another abusive incident, the woman finally went to the police, and on March 4, 2016, the first instance court of Ararat and Vayots Dzor provinces, presided over by judge Tatul Poghosyan, decided to only impose a fine of AMD 50 thousand (about $100) on the abusive husband.

“Your honour, how could an Armenian man tolerate his wife keeping in touch with immoral women, or coming home to no dinner. That's why I beat her,” Jamalyan (pictured on the left) said in his defense. 

Despite the indictment stating that the defendant violently hit and punched his wife numerous times during their last argument, hence the charges against him of committing a socially dangerous act, prosecutor Shahen Tonoyan did not think that there was sufficient basis to impose more severe punishment on Jamalyan. Citing “lack of aggravating factors,” and the fact that the accused has three minor children under his care, the prosecutor motioned to fine Jamalyan for 50 thousand drams.

Defense lawyer Anahit Saghatelyan, in turn, qualified the incident as “not so serious,” insisting that “it is not even appropriate” to talk about the causes of the beatings in court.

“There are factors that my client has told me about, which, if voiced in court, would put the plaintiff in rather a bad light. However, the defendant does not want to draw attention to these circumstances since they could affect negatively his children's fate. Jamalyan had his reasons [for abusing his wife] which were caused by the plaintiff's not so legitimate behaviour,” the lawyer stated. 

Due to the lack of domestic violence law in Armenia, spousal abuse cases are usually examined under articles on either beating or infliction of physical harm which envisage extremely mild punishments – a fine or imprisonment for up to 2 months.  Judges rarely impose the maximum punishment – a two-month imprisonment – since there are always “mitigating circumstances” in favour of defendants.