A group of women who have been assigned sole legal custody of their children gathered on Tuesday outside the office of Armenia’s Judicial Acts Compulsory Enforcement Service (JACES) to protest, as they said, against the service’s failure to carry out the corresponding court rulings. The mothers are convinced that the fact that their children have yet to be transferred to their care and the JACES inaction is a consequence of discrimination against women.
Coalition to Stop Violence against Women coordinator Zara Hovhannisyan, while speaking to reporters, said that it often takes years for the JACES to carry out the execution of child custody verdicts in favor of mothers.“During the protest action, we plan to hand a letter of demand over [to JACES officials] to have them immediately implement the court rulings and prosecute the judicial executors who have been arbitrarily delaying the execution of the verdicts,” Hovhannisyan said.
Protester Armine Avoyan, for her part, told reporters that she had divorced her husband in the beginning of 2015 and the judicial executors should have had passed her child to her care within a month after the issuance of the ruling. “All three courts have ruled that the child should stay with me. Two years ago, however, [my former father-in-law] kidnapped my kid from outside the JACES building, and now he lives with them. I told the executor at the time, ‘Look, he’s taking my child right in front of you!’ and he replied, ‘It’s fine, they’ll bring him back.’ They have yet to. My child is already 6 years old; he is not even attending school, but authorities are not doing anything. JACES is busy taking bribes instead of doing its job. I demand that my child is given back to me!”
The judicial executors, Avoyan continued, have told her that the reason her child has not been transferred to her care yet is that the kid supposedly does not want to live with his mother. “What do they mean ‘the child doesn’t want to’? The law does not consider the wishes of children younger than 10 years of age, but apparently the JACES does.”
After standing in front of the building for nearly an hour and waiting to no avail for JACES officials to come out and hear their demands, the women finally decided to walk into the building in an attempt to get the officials’ attention. Once inside, the demonstrators were met by Inspection and Analytical Department head Gagik Mirijanyan who told them that he could not remember each of the women’s cases but would make sure the demonstrators received a response should they decide to submit written appeals.
The protesting mothers, however, countered that they have repeatedly presented their demands and notified officials about the existing problems, but to no avail. Nonetheless, the women went ahead and submitted their appeals, announcing that they would return to the JACES office on November 2 to get answers.