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‘Okay When She’s Asking for It;’ March in Yerevan Against Domestic Violence

What to do when your partner is subjecting you to physical abuse? Where to look for legal and mental support? A number of women’s rights organizations held an awareness march through the streets of Yerevan today, handing out leaflets with domestic violence hotlines, which also provided answers to these questions. The march marked the beginning of the 16-day awareness and advocacy campaign against gender-based violence.

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The marchers passed by a number of Yerevan’s universities, handing out the information booklets primarily to students. As a response, female students generally said they had never heard of domestic violence and that nothing of the kind had ever happened in their families. The majority of young men, for their part, tried to laugh the issue off as a joke: “Are you holding this action so that we beat women less frequently during these 16 days?”; “Yes, give me the leaflet so that I know how to beat them properly”. At the same time, they justified gender-based violence, insisting that subjecting women to physical abuse was okay when “the man can’t take her any more” or “when she’s asking for it.”

Nevertheless, most of them insisted that domestic violence was not a normal occurrence in their homes. “It mainly happens in villages,” they claimed.

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